Here’s the third post in our series on the Beauty Around Us: Dragonflies
Dragonflies and damselflies (the “Odonata” scientific order) are fantastic inhabitants of our ponds, creeks and meadows. Odonata are both beautiful and beneficial, eating large quantities of mosquitos and other insects.
Damselflies can generally be distinguished from dragonflies by their slender abdomens and by the closed position of their wings when perched. Their unique four wing structure allows these insects to fly forward, backward and sideways, as well as hover and glide. Adults vary in size from less than one inch to over three inches in length. Males, juveniles, and adults of the same species are often remarkably different in color.
While most of us recognize dragonflies as we see them darting around us, did you know that they begin life as aquatic insects? Starting out as tiny eggs, they emerge as nymphs (or larvae) and grow in the water. After molting several times, they crawl from the water and morph into the beautiful flying creatures that we observe. Most adults live only two to eight weeks!
Photos by Eva Furner and Bill Dunson
Enjoy the dragonflies around us! If you’d like to learn more, here are two resources from our Lemon Bay Conservancy website:
Our dragonfly brochure, developed by LBC volunteers, describes their anatomy and life cycle, features photos of eight local species, and offers references to additional information sources:
This post from Dr. Bill Dunson, Professor Emeritus of Pennsylvania State University, describes the amazing long-distance migrations undertaken by some dragonfly species: