Dragonflies are expert hunters

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT
  • Updated: May 28, 2010 - 12:11 AM
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A dragonfly lands on a blade of grass.

Photo: Mark Wilson, Roswell Daily Record via AP

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Dragonflies are relatively large and often beautifully colored insects that spend much time on the wing in darting and rapid flight. An expert hunter, the dragonfly has a streamlined body and glistening wings that carry it through the air at speeds of 30 miles per hour or more; each pair of wings strokes alternately, the front pair going up while the hind pair is going down, at a rate of 30 or 40 strokes per second. Like hummingbirds, dragonflies can hover in the air or suddenly dart upward, downward or to one side.

 

While sunning and resting, they extend both wings as if in flight. They can't sew up any part of the human body, and, in spite of common superstitious beliefs to the contrary, they do not sting as they do not have a stinging apparatus.

Nymphs of dragonflies are aquatic and live in ponds or streams, where they feed on insects. The spiny legs of the adults form a sort of basket under the thorax for catching prey. The head swivels easily on the slender neck, and the huge compound eyes can see in nearly every direction, enabling the dragonfly to catch insects such as mosquitoes and gnats in the air.

JIM GILBERT

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