Dragonflies are little insects that are frequently observed flying about homes in the neighborhood. These predatory flying insects are born near water bodies and then move across seas in search of the appropriate environment.

Female dragonflies deposit their eggs near water bodies or in them. The reason for this is that water is the only place where dragonflies can thrive when they are larvae.

Dragonflies frequently mistake glossy surfaces for water bodies and lay their eggs there. The larvae of the dragonfly fail to survive due to a lack of water after depositing their eggs in such sites, resulting in a drop in the number of dragonflies. Shiny surfaces, such as polished gravestones, solar panels, vehicles, and other such sites, attract dragonflies.

What Is a dragonfly, exactly?

A dragonfly is a big flying insect found on all continents except Antarctica. Dragonflies are known for their big, flat wings and bright colors, which vary according to the individual and the location where they inhabit. 

Dragonflies have enormous, complex eyes that are commonly referred to as “bug eyes” and may be seen from afar. Dragonflies are found in approximately 5,000 different species all over the planet.

Emperor Dragonfly (male) on a branch

What are the habitats of dragonflies?

Dragonflies may be found on every continent. The majority of dragonfly species spend most of their lives beneath or near the water’s surface.

Dragonflies enjoy ponds, marshes, or streams, depending on the species. They have a reputation for being fussy about where they live. If you observe a dragonfly near a body of water, it’s likely that the water is clean.

What are the characteristics of dragonflies?

The dragonfly’s body comprises three separate sections: the head, abdomen, and thorax, and it has an exoskeleton, like all insects. A dragonfly’s head is the smallest section of its body, with two slender antennae. A dragonfly’s entire body length is 1-4 inches.

Dragonfly eyes

green darner dragonfly
green darner dragonfly

The eyes of dragonflies are equally noteworthy. The eyes of a dragonfly encompass the majority of its head, allowing it to view almost 360 degrees around them. On the sides of the head, dragonfly eyes are separated, and on the top of the head, they join together.

Dragonflies have complex eyes and have a higher concentration of color proteins than humans. This means they experience the world as a mosaic made up of a million little images.

The way dragonflies view the environment is still being studied, but studies reveal that they have a remarkable capacity to discern colors that people can’t see, in a variety of tints and intensities, including ultraviolet light.

Dragonfly wings

Dragonflies have two pairs of wings and three pairs of legs on their thorax. Their wings are known to be long, translucent, and “patterned.”. The wings of a dragonfly are as distinctive as their colors. Consider a dragonfly’s wings to be comparable to the spots on a leopard or the stripes on a zebra. They’re a strange, existent pattern in nature that scientists don’t understand how or why they originate.

Dragonflies, like their wings, are tough insects. The dragonfly’s wings are attached to the body by a powerful muscle, allowing it to fly vast distances at fast speeds. A female’s wings are somewhat shorter than a male’s in most species. Dragonfly wings, like those of many other flying insects, do not fold. As a result, when a dragonfly lands, its wings remain horizontal to its body.

When it comes to dragonfly and damselfly, what’s the difference?

Blue damselfly on nettle leaf

Although dragonflies and damselflies have a lot in common, there are a few important distinctions. Dragonflies have thicker bodies, whereas damselflies have more slender bodies. A dragonfly’s wings are kept open while resting, whereas damselflies’ wings are folded on top of their body. 

Damselfly eyes are separated on either side of their heads, whereas dragonfly eyes are together in the center. Finally, although dragonflies have a powerful straight flight, damselflies have a fluttery flight.

What is the life expectancy of dragonflies?

A dragonfly’s lifetime can range from a month to two months on average. A dragonfly’s lifecycle is divided into two stages. After the male dragonfly has bred with the female dragonfly, the female dragonfly deposits her eggs near a water source or in a location where water will be replenished over time.

Larvae Stage

The first stage of the dragonfly’s life cycle begins when the eggs hatch. The dragonfly will live as a larval, or ‘nymph,’ at this stage. Depending on the species, the nymph will spend one to four years in the water. It will devour the larvae of other insects and young tadpoles and even fish in this phase.

Dragonflies, unlike butterflies and moths, do not develop into chrysalises and then emerge as adults. Instead of pupating, the immature nymph will migrate from its watery habitat to the riverside, where it will hang from a branch or steam and dry in the sun. The nymph will change into a dragonfly after undergoing metamorphosis.

Adult stage

The newly emerging adult dragonfly waits in the sunlight for a few hours after transformation into a dragonfly to strengthen and dry its wings. The dragonfly is known as a teneral at this stage, a Latin term meaning fragile and gentle. 

The dragonfly is susceptible to predators and can even be eaten by fellow dragonfly nymphs during this stage. Many dragonflies perish at this stage due to being hit by a boat or being blown around by the wind.

When the dragonfly gets strong enough to fly, it will be safer and more dangerous. Birds, lizards, frogs, and even fish may devour the baby dragonflies at this time. They are typically adept at self-defense, have exceptional vision, and can fly swiftly, helping them to adapt and flee predators.

Dragonflies are fast and reside near water, where they eat other flying insects like mosquitos. Some bigger dragonfly species will even prey on damselflies. Adult dragonflies live for three to six months, which is ample time to mate and deposit eggs. Many factors influence a dragonfly’s lifespan. For example, if the weather is pleasant, they are more likely to live to adulthood.

A pair of Dragonflies resting in the sun light

Rain and high winds can harm dragonflies who prefer warm, dry conditions. They may live for up to six months if the weather cooperates.

Dragonflies, on the other hand, will not live long in cold, damp, and windy conditions, and will breed and die within a few weeks. A dragonfly dying in old age is remarkable. The majority will either be eaten by a predator or perish due to extreme weather.

Here’s a short rundown of the phases in a dragonfly’s life cycle, from egg to death, as well as the length of time they spend in each phase:

Life Stages of a DragonflyTime Duration
Nymph stage2 to 3 years
Adult phase4 to 6 months

Why do dragonflies live for such a long time?

The life cycle of dragonflies is built in such a manner that they may survive for such a long time.

Although many experts think and regard the dragonfly’s egg phase to be one of the stages in its lifetime. If this is the case, the dragonfly’s lifetime may be computed and increased by at least 6 months.

However, the majority of experts think that the dragonfly’s life cycle consists of only two phases: the nymph phase and the adult phase. The nymph phase is the longest, lasting two to three years. The reason for this is that the dragonfly’s body develops during this period. 

The body is shaped for the adult stage and shredded up to 17 to 20 times throughout this phase. One thing to keep in mind is that water is the most critical requirement for dragonflies to flourish during their nymph stage. Because the larvae’s only home is water, this is true.

Furthermore, their food supply is limited to aquatic bodies. However, if dragonflies are unable to reach a water body as their habitat, or if the larvae leave the water body for whatever reason, dragonflies will be unable to live. As a result, they are unable to fully develop their bodies for adulthood and eventually perish. The dragonflies’ lifetime is limited to anything from 6 months to a year in this situation.

What do dragonflies eat?

Dragonflies are nearly entirely carnivorous, which means they feed on other animals. Many of these flying predators are superb hunters that track and eat their victims with insatiable appetites. Because of their predatory tendencies and high success rate, they are one of nature’s most efficient and brutal predators.

Dragonfly eating a fly on a leaf

Their food consists of a wide range of different insects, most of which are smaller and less strong. Because dragonflies require a lot of food to maintain their energy levels, they frequently prioritize quantity above quality in their diets.

Depending on where they are in their lifecycle, they eat different things. Adult dragonflies feed other flying insects, but nymphal dragonflies devour insects and animals that live on the ground. We’ve discovered 15 frequent meals in a dragonfly’s diet:

  • Mosquitoes
  • Midges
  • Mayflies
  • Butterflies
  • Moths
  • Damselflies
  • Dragonflies
  • Bees
  • Larvae
  • Flies
  • Small fishes
  • Worms
  • Gnats
  • Frogs
  • Tadpoles

Dragonflies will devour almost anything smaller than themselves. They aren’t discriminating eaters, and if smaller dragonflies are around, they will go after them. The average dragonfly may consume up to a fifth of its body weight in a single day, and some can consume even more. As a result, they’ll consume just about everything they can get their hands on.

Mosquitoes and midges are, however, their preferred meals. Because of their capacity to control mosquito populations, they are particularly effective in preventing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

Is it possible to keep a dragonfly as a pet?

Dragonflies are entertaining to raise but difficult to manage as pets. They are large-winged insects that may reach a length of 4 inches. Collect some water and separate the nymphs using an aquatic insect net. It’s preferable not to introduce any new species that may become invasive.

Final thoughts

Dragonflies are not very bothersome, but they can play an important role in the transfer of illness, germs, and bacteria from one location to another. As a result, it’s critical to avoid the creation of dragonfly colonies near your home. To do so, it’s critical to keep water from collecting in your surroundings.