Spring Hatches in the US: Dragonflies

Known across the US as a “Dragonfly” this agile and hungry predator is timed to hatch from their spiderlike aquatic larvae shells exactly at the same time mosquito hatches will occur. Turning over rocks in shallow waters of ponds, lakes or streams, you can find their larvae as they prepare to hatch. If you find them after the dragonfly has hatched, the larvae is empty, hollow and shelllike, and the first time you find one, it may seem a bit intimidating. However, what you are now seeing when you find one of those is the transition vehicle for one of the thousands of dragonflies hovering overhead.

Dragonflies have many varieties and variations and there are literally hundreds of color, wing shape, body shapes and locations that they can be found in. “Odonata” is the Order and there are many sub-orders numbering around 5300, based on special features, colors and locations. The genus and species give them their scientific names.

Dragonflies primarily consume other smaller insects, and use their massive compound eyes with an enormous field of vision to locate them. Scientists have found that the dragonfly eye has up to 50,000 separate lenses, and these predators can literally see most every direction at once. Between the acutely accurate and sharp vision, dragonflies can bend, twist and manuever their four wings, which allow them to take off, hover, turn and correct directions in mid flight not unlike a helicopter can. Dragonflies are incredibly agile in flight and many a mosquito has fatally misjudged the larger bugs ability to dart and turn!

Careful observers will often see dragonflies patrolling their gardens or backyards, literally following almost exact parallel paths with other dragonflies, as they hunt for supper. As they fly back and forth, you can see them swivel and turn, almost as if its choreographed. Dragonflies have been around for almost 300 million years and paleontologists have found huge variations of them embedded in rock, giving scientists excellent documented proof that they haven’t changed much over time…meaning that the dragonfly has worked the kinks out and are likely to be around another 300 million years, or more!

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