Dragonflies are not only the fastest flying insects but they also have 30,000 individual eye facets! With so many eye facets giving them a 360 degree view of the world, they can see you coming and see you going. There’s more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies and at times they are mistaken for damselflies. They tend to be characterized by their large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and elongated body. The larval stage of large dragonflies may last as long as five years but for smaller ones, only between two months and three years. When ready to metamorphose into an adult it climbs up a reed or other emergent plant to fly off. But first it must shed its old larval skin. At a weak spot behind the head the skin splits and it’s wings are free. Not until exposure to air the larva starts breathing.
Usually an animal will go through some sort of courting routine before they mate but for dragonflies time is of an essence! They don’t have forever to live and in their eyes there’s food that needs eating. The males will forcefully mate with the first female they come across. Yes, forcefully with the first. After the male has located the correct female species by her flight patterns, he will then approach from behind. He clamps his forearms around her neck and at times with a vicious bite to subdue her. Lastly he will signal his body for the matting process to begin.
Dragonflies are found all over the world. The dragonfly is large predatory insect generally found around watery areas in both the North and South Hemispheres. Immature dragonflies resign in fresh waters. Dragonflies start their life in water and therefore are often found in ponds, lakes, canals, streams, rivers and swamps. Some dragonflies with a short larvae cycle of a few weeks can also live in rain puddles. Since they can fly so fast and so good, sometimes they tend to be found long ways away from water.
Both the dragonfly and it’s larvae are carnivorous animals and they feed exclusively on other small animals. The main prey of the dragonfly are mosquitoes, flies, bees and other small invertebrates. The dragonfly larvae feeds mainly on aquatic insects and their eggs. During their waterborne life they hunt small insects and other larvae, especially mosquito larvae that are in the water with them. But the diet doesn’t stop there, some dragonfly nymphs will even eat tadpoles and guppies. Snagging their prey with powerful jaws and the same vicious tenacity that will dictate their lives as adults. With dragonflies bringing in close to 95 percent of the prey they set out to capture, they pretty much succeed every time.
The dragonfly is preyed upon by a number of predators around the world including birds, fish and reptiles such as lizards. The dragonfly is also commonly eaten by amphibians such as toads, frogs and large newts.