The Devils Darning Needle

One of natures’s most intriguing and fascinating insects, the Dragon Fly are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, wasps, and every once in awhile butterflies. A very common insect in the Rocky Mountains, found around marshes (Vermillion Lakes), lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because their larvae, known as “nymphs”, are aquatic. Dragonflies are some of the fastest insects in the world.

The thing that looks like a stinger on a dragonfly is actually called a clasper and the male dragonfly uses it to hold onto the female when they are mating. It has the ability to seek out pure water, can reflect multiple colours with changing angles of light, it has awe inspiring flight with speed and can almost single handedly control insect populations

There are about 5,000 different species of dragonflies all over the world except in Antarctica. 450 of the species can be found in the United States and about 80 species in British Columbia and Alberta.

From the time a dragonfly egg hatches, it can live anywhere from six months to six years, but only about two months as an actual dragonfly. Most of the time spent is as a nymph in the water before the dragonfly’s metamorphosis into a full grown dragonfly.

A dragonfly’s scientific name is Odonta, which comes from the words “tooth-jawed” because the entomologist (insect scientist), Johann Christian Fabricius, who named them studied the dragonflies’ mouths in order to distinguish the different species.

The dragonfly, owing to its position in the food chain, is not scared, so if you find one flying over to you and sometimes looking you in the eye for a few moments, don’t be surprised or shocked. It’s what it does…look with its 30,000 eyes, to find food and mates.

Like all arthropods (invertebrate animals), dragonflies have compound eyes – only, they are a little more specialized and suited for a born predator.

Easy to photograph, look near marshes and on lily pads and they do not bite!


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