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dragonfly

Dragonfly

Fast and Furious ~ Dragonflies can fly extremely fast and are very agile. The maximum speed of large species is around 10-15 metres/sec, or roughly 25-30 mph, although higher speed have been reported. Average cruising speed is probably about 10 mph. Small species, and especially damselflies, are generally slower, although many medium-sized species can probably keep up with the largest ones.

Dragonflies (order Odonata) are divided into two distinct sub-orders, the Zygoptera or Damselflies and the Anisoptera or Dragonflies. Dragonflies and damselflies eat small insects such as flies. Dragonflies and damselflies lay eggs near fresh water.

Dragonfly Nymph

These are the “teenage” form of the dragonfly, before it transforms into an adult. They are from the order Odonata, which comes from the Greek word, odous, meaning tooth. They can inflict a sharp bite with their teeth (mandibles) if held carelessly.

What they look like:

Dragonfly Nymphs are short and chunky with wing pads and internal gills. Their six legs are all located near the head. Size: 18-49 mm long.

Where they live:

Dragonfly Nymphs live on plants, among stones, leaf litter, or at the bottom of ponds or slow-flowing rivers. They are sensitive to habitat disturbance and they need aquatic or riparian vegetation in the waterways where they live.

What they eat:

Dragonfly Nymphs are predators and feed mostly on other insects in the water. Sometimes, they can be cannibals and eat each other. Some of the larger species have been known to feed on small fish and tadpoles. They catch their food with a toothed lower lip (labium) that is usually folded under the head. When a small insect comes near, the nymph will shoot out its lower lip to grab it, faster than most prey can react. The lip is then pulled back to the waiting mouth and feeding begins.

What’s interesting about the Dragonfly Nymph?

* It breathes by sucking water into its abdomen to move water over its internal gills. Once it has absorbed enough oxygen, the nymph squeezes the water out rapidly so it does not have to come up for air like most pond insects. This also helps jet propel them forwards in the water.
* Much of a dragonfly's life is spent in the larval stage where it moults six to 15 times. The nymph crawls out of the water and moults one last time, emerging as an adult with functional wings. Dragonflies and damselflies do not go through a pupal stage to become an adult.
* They keep the populations of mosquitoes and flies under control.
* Dragonflies can fly at 40 kilometres per hour.
* They can inflict a sharp bite with their teeth (mandibles) if held carelessly.

http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/

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