Dragonflies are insects with multifaceted eyes. They have strong transparent wings and sometimes, they have colored patches. There are more than 5,000 species of dragonflies currently discovered. Take a look below for 27 more interesting and weird facts about dragonflies.
1. Dragonflies are found on every continent except Antarctica. They like to live in temperate, tropical and terrestrial locations.
2. They come in a variety of sizes. The average dragonfly is between 2.5 to 10 centimeters, or 1 to 4 inches, in length.
3. Their life starts in water, that’s why they’re often found near bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes, canals, streams, rivers and swamps. However, since they’re such good fliers, they can sometimes be found a ways away from any water.
4. Adult dragonflies have iridescent and metallic colors that are produced by structural coloration, making them very noticeable when flying.
5. They’re very power and agile fliers. They’re able to fly in any direction and even to change directions suddenly. When in flight, they can proper themselves in six directions, upwards, downwards, forward, back, to the left, and to the right.
6. They are some of the fastest flying insects in the world. They’re able to reach flying speeds of over 48 kilometers, or 30 miles, per hour.
7. Their small wings are able to produce 30 flaps per second, which is what helps them hover. At those speeds, dragonflies are able to beat their wings up to 1,800 times per minute.
8. Compared to other insects, they have amazing vision. Their head is almost entirely made up of two compound eyes, which give them nearly 360 degree vision. Each compound eye has 30,000 lenses, or ommatidia.
9. Dragonflies use 80% of its brain to process all the visual information they receive from their eyes. They’re able to see a much wider spectrum of colors than humans. This is what helps them detect movement of other insects and predators.
10. They look for food using their incredible eyesight and quick flight.
11. They mostly eat other flying insects, such as midges and mosquitoes. They’re also known for eating butterflies, moths and other smaller dragonflies.
12. Dragonfly larvae, which live in the water, eat any living thing that’s smaller than themselves. Larger dragonfly larvae sometimes eat small fish or fry.
13. Their lifespan consists of two stages. Their first stage is the aquatic larvae or “nymph” stage. This stage will generally last between 1 and 3 years. Once it becomes fully grown, it will completely metamorphosis into a dragonfly by crawling out of the water up the stem of a plant. This is the second and last stage of its life.
14. The adult stage is the shortest stage of a dragonflies life as it lasts about 6 months. Some dragonfly species are known for spending several years as aquatic larvae because they will only undergo metamorphosis if the weather is just right.
15. Some species of dragonfly gather in large swarms. This usually happens because there’s a lot of food in one certain area.
16. Another reason for large swarms could be due to courting. Dragonflies sometimes make courting groups with males actively searching for females.
17. Some species of dragonfly are known to migrate.
18. The globe skimmer dragonfly, Pantala flavescens, has the longest migration of any known insect. Millions of these dragonfly fly 11,000 miles across the Indian Ocean from India to Africa.
19. Their primary predators are birds, frogs, big spiders and fish. To avoid being eaten, they will try to use their quick flying abilities to fly away and hide in vegetation.
20. At least 1 in 10 species of dragonfly is threatened with extinction. This is due to loss of wetland habitat.
21. In prehistoric times, dragonflies were some of the largest flying insects. The largest extinct dragonfly specie had a wingspan of 75 centimeters, or 30 inches.
22. The oldest known species of dragonfly, Delitzschala bitterfeldensis, is 320 million years old.
23. They’re represented in human culture on ancient artifacts such as pottery, rock paintings, and Art Nouveau jewellery.
24. Dragonflies are used in traditional medicine in Japan and China. They’re also eaten in Indonesia.
25. In Japanese culture, they’re symbols of courage, strength and happiness. In European folklore, they’re seen as sinister.
26. Swedish folklore talks about the devil using dragonflies to weigh people’s souls.
27. For some Native American tribes, dragonflies represent activity and swiftness. For example, the Navajo see them as symbolizing pure water.