Zoology

Life Span of a Dragonfly



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In simplistic terms, the life span a dragonfly is not a lengthy one. In layman's terms I have tried to present the researched information about these beautiful insects in a way for all to understand, so that young readers or older readers might enjoy learning a few interesting facts about them.

In my article I've tried to include some of the dragonfly's value, as research indicates this incredible insect has a short, but extremely environmentally useful life span which should be appreciated. You may not appreciate their value, if you do not spend a lot of time outdoors. However, if you are an outdoor person, you will be grateful they are around!

Perhaps if people were better informed of the valuable environmental services performed by the dragonfly, they would not be so quick to label them "horse stingers" or "devil's darning needles".

These are sometimes the unfair and untrue reputation of the dragonfly! In actuality, dragonflies (order Odonata) are an extremely useful insect! They are harmless to humans and eat up disease-bearing mosquitoes!

Can you imagine how important this service is? Without the benefits of the dragonflys service, illnesses such as equine encephilitis, west nile virus and malaria would spread much faster and wipe out more humans, as some illnesses from moquitoes cannot be cured.

What is the life span of a dragon fly? The dragonflies' lifespan consists of two stages. Unlike insects who go through the pupa stage, three altogether, dragonflies do not. The lifespan of the dragonfly is unique, in this way.

They, the babies (naiads) or aquatic larvae, can live up to three years in the water before maturing directly to the adult stage. Depending on climate they thrive longer in drier, warmer weather. Dragonflies will live anywhere from one month to six months once fully matured. In hotter climates the dragongly may live a few extra months.

While in the larval stage they breathe through gills. After maturity it takes approximately three days for all four wings to harden in order to be able to sustain flying. Incidentally, the four wings move independently of one another!

There are 39 species of dragonflies. While it might seem reasonable to assume that the female is referred to as a "damselfly", the damselfly is of the same (order Odonta), but is more like a cousin in the dragonfly world, instead of a potential female mate. Dragonflies can fly up to speeds of 30 to 35mph. Mosquitoes and other flying insects are their chosen cuisine.

Interestingly, the dragonfly's eyes almost complete 360 degrees in their ability to see. This allows them to catch the flickering light of other insects as they fly by and to catch their airborne prey quite easily.

"Layer upon layer of perfectly ordered structures. The compound eye of the dragonfly has about 30,000 optical units in each eye", wrote Professor Lee of the UCLA. No wonder they can catch those mosquitoes without any problems!

Dragonflies get their jewel-like color appearance on their wings as the wings harden. As mentioned, once hardened, they then can begin to fly.

The colors of the dragonfly's wings are a gift to look at. Brilliant emerald green and royal purple blending with flecks of gold sparkle in the sunlight that catch the attention of a passing eye. The next time you chance to see one, why not try to get a closer look! They are an incredible insect, and again, they are harmless creatures to us humans.

As children, we were told "if you say a swear behind your mother's back, the dragonfly will sew your lips together!" I wonder just how many of us, as children, dared to test that out!

Dragonflies make us think of warm, lazy summer days and they perform a useful service to mankind. Dragonflies will eat the mosquitoes while we enjoy our picnic lunch! Long live the dragonfly generation......even if it is a too-short life span.

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More about this author: Victoria Rose Perkins

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