Dragonflies love places with a large amount of water, fens, rivers, and streams. A dragonfly needs water to reproduce. There are over 450 different species found throughout the US and Canada.
A dragonfly cannot sting or bite. They do have jaws with which they chew their food, mostly insects. But with most dragonflies, these jaws are too weak to bite through human skin. Only when you catch them and hold your finger to the jaw will they make a snapping motion as a reflex. Only with the larger species of dragonflies, this could result in a cut in your skin. So it is a myth that dragonflies will bite or sting.
Damselfly vs Dragonfly
Dragonflies (ordonata) are divided into two groups, damselflies (Zygoptera) and ‘true’ dragonflies (anisoptera). Dragonflies are the more common of the two and both share many of the same physical characteristics and behaviors. During rest, the dragonfly folds the wings up or down the abdomen. The damselflies hold their wings loosely back at rest. Dragonflies have larger eyes than damselflies, which touch at the center of the head. In general, dragonflies are larger than damselflies. The larger Dragonflies can also fly a lot faster than the damselflies. They can reach speeds of up to 60 Km per hour. This makes them the fastest flying insects. Much faster than wasps or bees.
Dragonfly life cycle
Dragonflies lay their eggs in or near the water, this can go with hundreds to thousands at a time. When the eggs hatch, a prolarvae appears. This larvae move to the water, where they find their food.
The larvae then molt 9 to 17 times, depending on the species. The larvae of the Dragonflies molt from larvae to adult dragonflies. The process from larvae to adult dragonflies can take between 5 months and 5 years, this varies per species. The moment the larvae become a dragonfly is called hatching. The larvae crawl to a place outside the water and the dragonfly comes out of the larvae. After this, it takes a few hours before it is well dried and formed. The dragonflies take care of reproduction and lay new eggs. In general, the life span of the adult dragonfly is one or several weeks to a few months.
What do dragonflies eat?
In the stage when the dragonfly is still a larva, they feed on small water creatures, such as daphnia and very small fish. The larvae themselves are a tasty snack for fish, amphibians, water beetles, water bugs, water birds, and so on.
The dragonfly feeds on all kinds of flying insects, such as mosquitoes, flies, moths, and sometimes other dragonflies.
Types of Dragonfly
In the US and Canada alone you can find about 450 different species of dragonflies.
A kind of blue dragonfly is the azure damselfly. You can encounter them in June, July, and August near still or slightly flowing shallow water.
There are several types of red dragonflies, the ruddy darter, common darter, and vagrant darter for example. These species are about four centimeters in size. They have black legs and a red body, in the wing there is a yellow spot that is smaller in one species than in the other. The females are yellow-brown. When they age they take on a light gray glow.
The emperor dragonfly or blue emperor is a large species, but very rare in the United States and Canada. This species is mainly found throughout Africa, most of Europe, and south-west and central Asia. The length of this animal is between 64 and 84 millimeters. The thorax of the emperor dragonfly is green, the abdomen of the male is blue with a black stripe, and of the female is green. The wings are transparent with a light brown glow.
The emperor dragonfly is green of color. The green club-tailed dragonfly is also a green species of a somewhat smaller size, about 5 to 5.5 centimeters. The abdomen of the green gomphid is yellow in contrast to the blue or green body of the emperor dragonfly. Another green species is the green hawker, 65 to 75 millimeters long, with a green thorax and a blotchy abdomen. The wings are transparent with very thin black seam stripes.
A broad-bodied chaser owes its name to the shape of its body. It is a large dragonfly with a flattened abdomen. This flat part is blue in the males and yellow in the females. The length of this dragonfly is 39 to 48 mm, with the females being somewhat smaller than the males.
The black darter is the smallest species. The size is between 29 and 34 millimeters. They have a black band on both sides of the thorax. The legs are black and the older the dragonfly is, the blacker it becomes. The younger animals largely have yellow color on the upper side of the abdomen. The yellow-brown markings remain visible in the thorax.
The brown hawker is a dragonfly species that is brown. You can spot this dragonfly at the end of June, July, August, and at the beginning of September. It is a large species that looks even larger due to its orange-brown wings. The size of the brown hawker is between 70 and 77 mm. The green-eyed hawker is also a brown dragonfly, which has an orange-brown abdomen and a less conspicuous shade of wings.