Wander around any place in the summer months, including ponds, marshes and riverbanks, and you’ll often find these pretty insects in the general area, as they prefer the calmer waters. They are different to Damselflies, because they can also often be seen flying quite a way from areas of water too. There are roughly 30 species of Dragonfly in Great Britain and Ireland, and they fall into five families and two genera.
Dragonflies come from the insect order named Ordonata, which also contains Damselflies. Whilst Damselflies are from the Zygoptera sub-order, Dragonflies belong to the Anisoptera sub-order. This Greek name translates to mean ‘unequal winged’. Dragonflies have broader and shorter hindwings when they are compared to the front pair of wings. Dragonflies have six legs; however most of them can’t walk very well.
Dragonflies are exceptionally fast fliers, and are rated as some of the fastest insects in the world. Some foreign species of Dragonflies have a cruising speed of ten miles an hour, with a maximum speed of around thirty four miles per hour!
Dragonflies seem different to Damselflies. Not only are the back wings a different dimension, the Dragonfly cannot hold its wings against its body such as the Damselfly; it has to maintain them perpendicularly away from his body.
Like Damselflies, Female Dragonflies lay their eggs in water, and these hatch into water nymphs. They seem incredibly odd, with a crusty looking lump on its back. The majority of their life cycle is truly spent submerged, as a nymph. The nymph stage of their life cycle can take up to four years, depending on the species. Dragonfly nymphs will eat other, smaller Dragonfly nymphs at times too. Once the transformation is complete, the nymph will climb up a plant stemout of the water and discard its nymph skin to emerge as an adult Dragonfly.
The life span of an adult Dragonfly is usually only a couple of months. In this time, it will search for a mate and eat tiny insects, including flies, mosquitoes, bees, ants and sometimes butterflies. They are larger than Damselflies; for instance, the Southern Hawker Dragonfly is six centimetres long, whereas Damselflies are usually only three centimetres long. They’ve a long abdomen, which has a wider section near the wings. This is usually coloured, no matter how the colors are usually thicker than those of the Damselfly, such as if it is black and blue, the black will be thicker and the rings will be blue.