Dragonflies radiate their essence with their fluttering scintillating wings during erratic flight and are known for their long bodies and transparent wings.
In close range, one can capture the beauty of their prominent sizable eyes that allow them to view a wide range: an over 360-degree vision. Their eyes fascinatingly embody over 30,000 facets, allowing them to have a clear and focused vision.
With just a bit revealed on these unique creatures, you will learn more valuable about dragonflies and how dangerous they are, if they are.
Background on Dragonflies
Dragonflies are prehistoric creatures like grasshoppers, dating over 300 years. They are colorful and energetic flying insects linked to the order Odonata. These flying creatures have amorphous mandibles and two unequal pairs of wings that are supported by specialized muscles sufficiently connected to the thorax.
This modification lets them retain their ingenious all-around flying ability, effortlessly switching angles and moving in all possible directions. There are over 7000 known species in the world, making them one of the vast orders in the kingdom.
Dragonflies could easily be seen swarming anywhere within the environment, even around our houses, but they are particular about ponds, lakes, streams, and wetlands. This inclination to swarm water bodies could be traced to birth and nymph development patterns because their eggs are born in water.
Are Dragonflies Dangerous?
Although they are not categorically harmful or dangerous to humans, they can give off a fast bite when they feel threatened. This reflex action to threat likely happens when they attempt to free themselves from the grip of adventurous hands. Although bites from dragonflies are mild, lacking the capacity to tear the human skin, they are also not to be handled without care. Like most insects, dragonflies are not free from parasites, so engaging with them in whatever approach without caution might be dangerous.
What Do Dragonflies Eat?
Dragonflies are mostly carnivorous! They are super-efficient when it comes to hunting prey. Dragonflies can launch aggressive attacks on tadpoles, worms, and other insect larvae in the water, even at their nymph stage.
Dragonflies eat butterflies, mosquitoes, moths, little midges, and sometimes other dragonflies and damselflies. Harnessing the strength in their strong pair of wings and their high compound eyes, dragonflies can lock their focus on a particular prey and swiftly lay ambush on them. Small-sized arthropods are not spared from their list of possible meals, especially for Cordulegaster bidentata (a dragonfly species).
Dragonflies have multiple options of either consuming defenseless prey while flying mid-air or dissecting the overpowered prey on a perch. Nevertheless, it is interesting to know that they exhibit quite a fascinating approach; they detach the wings of their prey before consuming them as meals. Research proves that dragonflies unapologetically hold a record of over 95% of successful attempted hunts.
Dragonflies Natural Habitat
For dragonflies, a proper home for them will be placed having connections with water bodies, and as we now know, their eggs are majorly laid in water bodies, and larvae would usually spend two years or more in some cases. Having a wide range of species attributed to these flying insects, it is not surprising that there would be variations in certain attributes and preferences.
Regarding their preferences, dragonflies will seek either a flowing or a still water body to avoid desiccation or adjust their body temperatures. A dragonfly that finds solitude in flowing water is the clubtail, while skimmers prefer to live on still water.
Moreover, apart from being voracious hunters, they also uphold their responsibility of protecting their unhatched young. They exemplify these protective tendencies by guarding the water body they consider a habitat while keeping them safe from other adult dragonflies.
What Eats Dragonflies?
For dragonflies, it is a case of the hunter becoming the hunted – when they are delivered to the slaughter table of their predators. In such life and death situations, their glimmering record for successful kills will have no value, as the jaws of their predators quickly crush them.
Unfortunately, the insect’s agility and fanciful flight pattern prove to be most often less valuable when it comes to escaping the attacks of these predators.
Dragonflies are, no doubt, tasty diets for predators such as the merlin, swallow, flycatchers, American kestrel, nighthawks, etc. The titan dragonfly nymphs are also helpless when dealing with predators like water spiders, fish, newts, and ducks.
Reproduction in Dragonflies
The process of dragonflies reproduction is simply fascinating. Male dragonflies are not entirely concerned with keeping their habitat safe for prospective eggs. However, they employ the territorial technique to attract the suitable female while chasing other males away.
When they are fully ready for mating, the male will employ its claspers, which are located at the tail end of the male’s abdomen, to grasp the head of the consenting female. Once this is achieved, the pair would naturally fly together, with the male leading and putting in the most effort while traditionally perching on plant stems.
Interestingly, as soon as they get comfortable on the plant stem, the female tries to curl her abdomen in an oscillatory pattern. She effortlessly collects the edible and fresh sperm from the male’s secondary genitalia initially transferred from his primary genitalia.
During egg-laying, the dragonfly, based on its species, will either lay her eggs on a leaf slit by her sharp ovipositor or deposit them in the water as she repeatedly taps the water’s surface with her abdomen.
Relationship Between Dragonflies and Humans
We already know that dragonflies do not pose a serious threat to humans. However, these pretty tiny insects are on the knife’s edge regarding conservation. Many dragonflies are almost endangered at this present time, as most of their natural rainforest habitats have been destroyed.
Human activity, such as building dams over rivers for power generation, has greatly reduced suitable habitats for these striving insects.
Also, dragonflies’ presence helps us keep unwanted and harmful insects like mosquitoes in check.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Costea Andrea M/Shutterstock.com
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