Do Dragonflies Bite or Sting People? 5 Critical Things to Know

Dragonflies are insects that have many types, shapes and colors, usually living in watery places, riverbanks, lakes or swamps. This is one type of dragonfly on the island of Kalimantan
© Abdul Gapur Dayak/Shutterstock.com

Written by Alanna Davis

Published: May 17, 2024

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Let’s be honest, many people have a strong distaste for insects. However, there are a handful of them that the general public is more readily accepting of. Butterflies, ladybugs, bumble bees, and inchworms are some of the most adorable of all, and many people welcome their presence in their gardens. Although they might not be as popular, dragonflies are another insect many see as a good omen. Some people think that a visit from one can mean that a lost loved one is nearby, while others interpret their presence as an omen of good luck. While these insects aren’t known to attack humans, you might be wondering if they’re safe to be around. Let’s explore whether or not dragonflies are capable of biting or stinging and discuss other critical facts about these insects.

Dragonflies: A Brief Overview

Blue Dasher Dragonfly

Many dragonflies live tragically short lives. On average, these insects will live for roughly six to eight weeks.

©Gerald DeBoer/iStock via Getty Images

Although many people think of these creatures as elegant and beautiful, the truth is that dragonflies are the apex predators of the insect world. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that this insect has a shocking 95% success rate when hunting for prey. But why is this? According to the Willistown Conservation Trust, “The secret to their success lies in the many unique adaptations they have accumulated throughout their evolution, including aspects of their eyesight and flight.” There are roughly 3,000 species of dragonflies across the globe, and they are native to every continent besides Antarctica.

Do Dragonflies Bite or Sting?

Wandering glider dragonfly - yellow in Florida

Dragonflies belong to the order

Odonata

, which roughly translates to “toothed one” in Greek.

©Karyn Honor/Shutterstock.com

Dragonflies are fearsome predators of many insects, so some humans might be worried about them biting or stinging. Many of you will be thrilled to learn that dragonflies don’t possess stingers and therefore aren’t capable of stinging humans. However, dragonflies can bite, but this experience is relatively rare. While these insects might be fearless in some aspects, many are smart enough to know when they’re outmatched. Because of this, avoiding contact entirely will be their first line of defense. However, if you catch one and refuse to let it go, it will have no choice but to bite. Dragonflies will only bite humans as a last-ditch effort if they feel extremely scared or threatened. Their bite contains no venom and many people report that the pain is entirely manageable.

What Should You Do if You’re Bit by a Dragonfly?

Because the bite of a dragonfly is nothing more than surface damage, individuals who get bit have little to worry about. Bigger dragonflies might be able to penetrate the skin and draw blood. However, this is uncommon as many dragonflies have small teeth that won’t break the skin at all. If you or someone you know gets bit, simply clean the site with alcohol and use a band-aid if necessary. Individuals who get bit don’t need to seek any sort of professional medical treatment for dragonfly bites.

5 Critical Things to Know about Dragonflies

1. Catching a Dragonfly Is Incredibly Difficult

beautiful sky and dragonflies とんぼ 青空

If a dragonfly loses their wings they will likely die as they will no longer be able to hunt.

©akechan/Shutterstock.com

While catching butterflies and grasshoppers comes with relative ease, catching a dragonfly is a challenge. These insects are some of the best fliers in the world and evading capture is one of their strong suits. Capturing a dragonfly will increase your odds of receiving a bite.

2. Having Dragonflies in Your Garden Serves as a Natural Form of Pest Control

dragonfly sitting on a flower

Although dragonflies are excellent predators in their own right, they are a dietary staple for other insects such as praying mantises.

©Yevhenii Lukashuk/Shutterstock.com

Dragonflies eat a variety of insects, and several of them could be considered garden pests. For example, mosquitos and midges are dragonfly favorites. Having dragonflies around will help keep their populations under control.

3. Dragonflies Don’t Have Stingers, Even if It Might Look Like It

dragonfly migrant hawker (Aeshna mixta) in flight

Among all insects, dragonflies have some of the most unique and interesting characteristics.

©Petr Ganaj/Shutterstock.com

While dragonflies might seem like they have stingers, this simply isn’t the case. Dragonflies attack and immobilize their prey using only their teeth.

4. Dragonflies Might Be Small, but They Are Very Tough

Сlose-up portrait of a dragonfly with big eyes.

The majority of dragonflies’ heads are encompassed by their eyes.

©Haiduchyk Aliaksei/Shutterstock.com

In addition to being formidable predators, some dragonflies complete migrations that span thousands of miles. In particular, the globe skimmer dragonfly travels from India to Africa each year enduring an arduous journey that encompasses over 11,000 miles.

5. Dragonflies Are Not Dangerous to Be Around at All

Dragonflies are insects that have many types, shapes and colors, usually living in watery places, riverbanks, lakes or swamps. This is one type of dragonfly on the island of Kalimantan

Unlike butterflies and moths, dragonflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis.

©Abdul Gapur Dayak/Shutterstock.com

In addition to being harmless to humans, dragonflies pose no threat to house pets either. They produce no venom, carry no diseases, and prefer to be left alone. The only creatures who really need to worry about these insects are the insects they prey on.

Final Thoughts

In essence, humans need not worry about dragonflies attacking anytime soon. These insects don’t have the capability to sting, and they only bite if they’re under extreme duress. Next time you see one fly nearby, take it as a positive sign. These insects are far more interested in hunting for food and staying out of danger than anything else.


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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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