Lakeside Nature Center

Critter Corner - Dragon Flies


Dragonflies are among the most ancient of all living creatures.  Fossils resembling the non-stinging insects date back 300 million years.  Dragonflies have two pairs of wings and each set moves independently so the insects can fly forward and backward.  Their wings beat 20 to 90 times a second.  The legs are used for perching only and do not move to walk.


Dragonflies eat huge numbers of other insects, including mosquitoes, as they fly through the air.  These amazing creatures make a basket-like trap with their legs to catch a tasty treat and use sharp mouthparts to cut up their prey.


A dragonfly begin its life in an egg that the adult lays in water or in submerged plants.  During this first stage of life the dragonfly is called a nymph, or naiad.  The nymph lives entirely in water.  It has no wings and propels itself around water eating other insects, tadpoles and tiny fish.


Dragonflies must have water where they can lay eggs and the nymph can survive.  Dragonflies can be found living near marshes,




Although dragonflies are often called "stingers" or "devil's darning needles" because of their long, slender bodies, they do NOT have stingers.  Dragon flies are ferocious predators of insects but cannot harm humans.  The best defense a dragonfly has against its main enemy -- birds -- is it's amazing speed in flight.  The largest of the dragonflies has been recorded flying at speeds of 60 miles an hour!


  • Dragonflies have large compound eyes, which are made up of many smaller lenses or facets.  The dragonfly has the most of any insect, up to 30,000 lenses, which allows it to see up, down, sideways, forward and backward.

  • It has the best eyesight of all insects.

(Photo credits: Laurie Brown)

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