Wander around any place in the summer months, including ponds, marshes and riverbanks, and you will often see these pretty insects in the general vicinity, as they prefer the calmer waters. They are different to Damselflies, because they can also often be seen flying quite a way from regions of water too. The five main families are classed as Hawkers, Chasers, Emeralds, Skimmers and Darters.
Dragonflies come from the insect order called Ordonata, which also contains Damselflies. Whilst Damselflies are out of 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’re compared to the front pair of wings. Dragonflies have six legs; nevertheless the majority of them can’t walk very well.
Dragonflies are exceptionally fast fliers, and are rated as some of the fastest insects on the planet. Some foreign species of Dragonflies have a cruising speed of ten miles an hour, with a maximum rate of up to half an hour per hour!
Dragonflies look different to Damselflies. Not only are the rear wings a different size, the Dragonfly cannot hold its wings against its body such as the Damselfly; it has to hold them perpendicularly away from his body. The Damselfly has obviously separate eyes, whereas the Dragonflies eyes touch together usually.
Like Damselflies, Female Dragonflies lay their eggs in water, and these hatch into water nymphs. They look incredibly odd, with a crusty looking lump on its rear. Most of their life cycle is actually spent submerged, as a nymph. The nymph stage of their life cycle can take up to four decades, depending on the species. Dragonfly nymphs will consume other, smaller Dragonfly nymphs at times too. Once the transformation is complete, the nymph will grow up a plant stemout of the water and shed its nymph skin to emerge as an adult Dragonfly.
The life span of an adult Dragonfly is generally only a few months. In this time, it will search for a mate and eat small insects, including flies, mosquitoes, bees, ants and sometimes butterflies. They are bigger than Damselflies; for example, the Southern Hawker Dragonfly is six centimetres long, whereas Damselflies are generally only three centimetres long. They’ve a long abdomen, which has a broader section near the wings. This is normally coloured, no matter how the colors are usually thicker than those of the Damselfly, such as if it is blue and black, the black will be thicker and the bands will be blue.