Friday, June 19, 2009

The Life of a Dragonfly

I was on my way to work in my backyard yesterday morning, when I noticed a dragonfly flittering around our pond. It didn't seem to be afraid of me, so I went back inside and got my camera to get a closer look at it.

It's always interesting and fun to see insects up close, and the dragonfly was amazing. It's little "face" reminded me of a little E.T., the Extraterrestrial. Click on the photo to enlarge it to see what I mean ...

The most dominant feature was his (or her?) eyes. They were huge compared to the rest of its body, and were constantly moving. Upon researching "dragonflies," I discovered that because of their large multifaceted eyes, which contain thousands of tiny lenses, the adult dragonfly can see nearly 360 degrees around it at all times. It was exciting to see his eyes moving and I wished for a video camera to capture it.

Here are the rest of the pictures I took, and if you click on them to enlarge them, I think you will enjoy seeing this beautiful little creature up close. I especially love its delicate, transparent wings ...

One thing I enjoy about my photography is learning a little about the subjects of my pictures ... be it person, place, or thing. I enjoy researching it and learning something about it.

The most interesting (and saddest) thing I learned about dragonflies is that the adult winged dragonflies live only for a few weeks, so when you see a winged dragonfly, it is living the final days of its lifespan. That means that ours won't be with us much longer, but I'm glad it lived its short life at our pond. I hope to show it to our granddaughter Avery this weekend and show her my pictures. I'm so glad I took the time to capture it with my camera.

Here are a few more interesting facts I discovered about Dragonflies, which were compiled by Brandon Cornett at

You often see dragonflies near bodies of water (ponds, lakes and slow-moving streams) because they lay their eggs on or near the water.

Dragonfly young (nymphs) have a special appendage on their head that they use as a spear to catch small fish. They are predatory insects from birth.

Dragonflies are not born with wings. They are born in a larvae state and eventually go through a partial metamorphosis process, during which they grow their wings.

Dragonflies spend most of their lives in the larva stage (up to three years, depending on the species).

The adult, winged stage only lasts a few weeks. Mating is the primary reason for their winged stage. So when you see a winged dragonfly, you know it's toward the end of its lifespan. Sad, but true.

Male dragonflies can be very territorial, staking claim to a particular area alongside a pond or stream [ours must be a he].

Dragonflies will sometimes travel in swarms, which may be related to weather changes such as the passage of cold fronts.

Dragonflies can be useful in controlling mosquito populations. Mosquitoes are one of their primary food sources!

Dragonflies are ancient insects. They have existed on Planet Earth for approximately 300 million years. Today, they look very much like they did in "dinosaur times," though they have gradually gotten smaller since then. The largest dragonfly fossil (one of the earliest) had a wingspan of nearly three feet! That makes it the largest flying insect in known history.

Dragonflies have two pairs of wings, and as far as insects go, dragonflies are among the fastest. Some can fly upward of 30 miles per hour. Their four wings also allow them to move sideways, backward, and to hover in place.

I hope the next time you see a dragonfly you can take the time to watch it for a few minutes and appreciate its beauty.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful...fascinating. I appreciate your sharing the research about them. I,too, have a thirst for knowledge about anything on this wonderful earth. I especially am grateful to you for posting all the lovely nature photos. I live in dry West Texas. While there is beauty every where, I do enjoy the lush greenry and all the flowers. Our environment is a lot of big skies, cactus, mesquites, cattle, cotton, etc. Thanks again the blessings your blog provides.

Janie in Texas

Old Highway 80 goes through our little town. We have a granddaughter in Louisiana and we pass through Sherveport when we visit her. Love the little things in life that connect us although we don't know each other.

D said...

That was really interesting to learn about the dragonfly. They are a good bug because they eat mosquitoes. Your pics are amazing especially when enlarged. Thanks for sharing.

Blondie's Journal said...

This is an interesting post, Janie. I have a lot of dragonflies at the lake and obviously, from your research, that is where they like to lay their eggs. Great info. And I loved the close~ups. The eyes make them look a little endearing!

Thanks again for your pictures and information on these cute little guys! :-)


Sue said...

Janir, I always learn the most fascinating things from you. The photos are brautifully detailed when enlarged. You are sooooo good w/a camera! Sue

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I enjoyed this post Janie. Your photos are wonderful and it was interesting to learn more about dragonflies. I never knew they were in the larva stage for three years! Amazing.

English Cottage in Georgia said...

When I awoke this morning, I would have never guessed that I would learn so much and come to appreciate the now "beloved" dragonfly. Wonderful post!

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

Your photos amaze me, your shots are always so clear and perfect.
Please stop by my blog when you get a chance, I have an award for you.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Great shots, Janie!


Sheila :-)