A couple of evenings ago, we found a dragonfly that had crash landed in our pool.
We though we were too late when we fished it out of the water.
It sat motionless in my hand for a few seconds, then grabbed onto my finger and fluttered its wings slightly.
It was rather large, with a blue-ish green body and beautiful rusty brown markings on the hindwings.
We were able to watch it for nearly 15 minutes as it perched calmly on my finger and dried itself off.
It spent a lot of time running its front legs across its face and eyes, as it preened and recovered from the unexpected swim.
Dragonflies have been living on this planet for over 300 million years. Fossils dating back to the Carboniferous Period, reveal giant species with wingspans of up to 30 inches!
Dragonflies are fast and agile flyers. Their wings are criss-crossed with multiple veins, which give them structure, shape and strength. Dragonflies are able to fly forwards, backwards, up, down and sideways, as well as hovering in place. Kind of like an insect version of a hummingbird!
When you see an adult dragonfly, it has already lived most of its life. Mated females lay their eggs in wet areas. The eggs hatch into a nymph form which lives underwater. The nymph will molt many times as it grows in size, eating small aquatic invertebrates, fish and tadpoles. The underwater nymph form lasts from 2 months to 6 years (depending on species).
For its final molt, the nymph crawls up out of the water. The old skin splits and the adult dragonfly emerges. The adult will only live another 5 or 6 months after this.
If you have dragonflies in your yard, they will help by eating mosquitos, flies, gnats, wasps and other small insects.
Dragonflies catch their meal in the air, aided by their keen vision. Their huge eyes cover most of their head.
The eyes are compound and consist of nearly 30,000 individual elements. Over 3/4 of the dragonfly's brain is devoted to processing visual information.
Their strong legs are covered with stiff hairs that help hold their prey.
Dragonflies themselves are eaten by lizards, birds, fish, frogs, spiders and even other dragonflies. Their agility in flight and their huge eyes help them to avoid becoming someone elses' meal.
I was looking for a safe perch to put this little guy, when it took off on its own. It hovered above my head for a few seconds before streaking off to chase a smaller dragonfly out of our back yard. A few minutes later it reappeared, chasing a hummingbird into a tree.
Apparently, the recovery was complete. :-)
"This dragonfly came up to me. He was hovering right in front of my face, and I was really examining him, thinking, How does he see me? I became enlightened."
~ Ziggy Marley
For more info:
Odonata: Dragonflies and Damselflies