Dragonflies, Pacific Northwest
The Dragonflies are a large predatory insect that is generally found around lakes and streams, they are quite common on the coast of BC. They are best known for their beautiful colors and the way their body and wings sparkle when they are hovering over water.
Dragonflies have long, thin colorful bodies, large eyes and two pairs of transparent wings. As with other species of insect, the dragonfly also has six legs but it is unable to walk on solid ground. In flight the adult dragonfly can propel itself in six directions which are upward, downward, forward, back, and side to side.
The dragonfly larvae is aquatic. The dragonfly larvae or nymph is capable of producing a painful bite for humans, so don’t attempt to catch them in your hands. Better still, just observe them and let them be.
Both the dragonfly and it’s larvae are carnivorous animals and they feed exclusively on other small animals. The main prey of the dragonfly are mosquitoes, bees and other small invertebrates. The larvae feeds mainly on aquatic insects and their eggs. The dragonfly is itself, preyed upon by a number of predators including birds, fish, toads and frogs.
Female dragonflies lay their eggs in water. The dragonfly eggs then hatch into nymphs. which is how most of the dragonfly’s life is spent. The dragonfly nymphs live beneath the water’s surface, catching insects and vertebrates such as tadpoles and fish.
The larval stage of some dragonflies may last as long as five years. When the larva is ready to metamorphose into an adult, it climbs up a reed or other emergent plant. The exposure to air causes the larva to begin breathing. The skin splits at a weak spot behind the head and the adult dragonfly crawls out of its old larval skin, pumps up its wings and is ready for flight.