Dragonfly facts

  • Dragonflies have been around 300 million years. One prehistoric fossil had a wingspan of 2 1/2 feet!
  • Today, the largest dragonfly is found in Costa Rica. It has a wingspan of 7 1/2 inches.
  • Dragonfly eyes contain up to 30,000 individual lenses. Human eyes only have one.
  • They have two sets of wings. They don’t have to beat their wings in unison like other insects do. Their front wings can be going up while their backs ones are going down.
  • Excellent and strong fliers, they can loop-the-loop, hover, and fly backwards.
  • Dragonfly nymphs (the first stage after hatching) live in the water for about a year.
  • While underwater they eat mosquito nymphs, tiny fish, and pollywogs. When they have matured to airborne insects, they catch mosquitoes and gnats in mid-air before devouring them.
  • After leaving the water and becoming flying insects, they only live for about a month.
  • Their natural predators are birds.
  • Among the many names for dragonflies around the world are Old Glassy from China, Water Dipper from England and Big Needle of Wings from the ancient Celts.
  • A bee flaps its wings about 300 times per second, but a dragonfly flaps its wings at only about 30 beats per second. (Fact, dragonflies have two sets of wings so they don’t have to beat them as much to fly.)
  • A dragonfly is a very strong and good flyer, and can fly at speeds of up to 36 miles per hour.  (fact - but not all dragonflies are that fast – one was clocked at this speed in Australia)
  • Dragonflies are known as snake doctors because they can bring dead snakes back to life. (myth)
  • There were huge dinosaur dragonflies that lived 300 million years ago. (Fact – the largest fossil found had a 2 ½ foot wingspan, and currently there are dragonflies in Costa Rica that measure 7 ½ inches across the wings.)
  • Dragonflies have huge stingers and some people are allergic to their stings and can die. (Myth – the thing that looks like a stinger on a dragonfly is actually called a clasper and the male dragonfly uses it to hold onto the female when they are mating.)
  • There are about 5,000 different species of dragonflies all over the world except in Antarctica. 450 of the species can be found in the United States and about 80 species in British Columbia. (Fact, most of the 5,000 species are found in remote, tropical areas.)
  • A dragonfly’s eyes have about 30,000 lenses and a dragonfly can see all the way around it, but they don’t see details very well. (Fact, a human eye only has one lens and sees better than a dragonfly, but only to the front and side of them.)
  • From the time a dragonfly egg hatches, it can live anywhere from six months to six years, but only about two months as an actual dragonfly. (Fact, most of the time spent is as a nymph in the water before the dragonfly’s metamorphosis into a full grown dragonfly.)
  • In the old days, dragonflies would seek out bad kids and sew their mouths together with their claspers while they slept. Dragonflies were known as the devil’s darning needles. (Myth – dragonflies don’t have pockets to carry the thread to the beds of sleeping wicked children.)
  • A dragonfly’s scientific name is Odonta, which comes from the words “tooth-jawed” because the entomologist (insect scientist), Johann Christian Fabricius, who named them studied the dragonflies’ mouths in order to distinguish the different species. Now their wings are studied as well to classify dragonflies. (Fact – other names for dragonflies around the world are water dipper in England, old glassy in China, and the ancient Celts called dragonflies big needle of wings.)
  • A long time ago, Japan was named Akitsushima, which translates to "Isle of the Dragonfly" (I named my nation on face book this).  There are two legends to how Japan got this name.  The first legend is that Japan was named after the Dragonfly because the country itself resembles a dragonfly's tail.  The second legend is that the Emperor of Japan was bitten by a housefly, and that housefly was eaten by a dragonfly, so in gratitude, the Emperor named Japan in honor the Dragonfly.
  • Dragonflies are also very sacred in Japan and many samurai wore dragonfly symbols on their armor.
  • Way back when Dragonflies were known by many names.  Two of those names were; the devil's darning needles, and horse biters.  Parents would tell their children that if they didn't behave the dragonflies would come in at night and sow their mouths shut.  There was also a belief that the dragonflies had stingers in their tales and that they used these stingers to upset the horses at night, but really, the dragonflies seen near the upset horses were really helping the horses by eating the insects that were really biting them.
  • Dragonflies mate while flying and the males are very possessive.  If a male dragonfly wants to mate with a female dragonfly that already has another male dragonflies eggs inside her, the new male dragonfly will rip them out of her and insert his own.
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