Lately, I have been paying close attention to the details of the many species of Dragonfly that can be seen swarming on these long hot summer nights.
They seem to be having a population boom as of late. I assume with the longer hotter weather lately there is more food for them, so that makes alot of sense.
The more you look at these incredible insects the more fascinating they really are. Just imagine millions of years ago during the Carboniferous period the fossil records indicate there were species of Dragonfly as large as a Seagull with a wingspan of 2.5 feet!
Even today we see species that boast a very impressive size. In fact, the largest of the species these days still has wingspans over 7 inches which, for an insect, is enormous in its own right.
They are among the fastest of all flying insects and some species like the Green Darner have been clocked at over 50 MPH! Larger Dragonfly like the Darners actually live for several years and since they feed in the north country where the pending winter will mean no insect prey for them, they actually have evolved to migrate like birds traveling up to 80 miles in a day!
The smaller species live shorter life spans so migration is out of the question.
There are countless kinds of dragonfly with some of the most beautiful color patterns found in nature. A literal biological rainbow with species names like Yellow Winged Darter, Emperor, Downy Emerald, Common Hawker, Banded Pennant and one of my favorite Dragonfly names “Meadowhawk” as well as countless others.
These incredible insects start their lives in the water as a very effective aquatic hunter called a nymph. Complete with external jaws they much on everything they can find up to and including small fish! Then after in some cases up to the 3 years, they crawl from the water and molt their skin turning into the amazing species we know and enjoy.
In the North Country in early Spring, rings the dinner bell for a biting fly called the “Black fly”. Every hiker in May knows this species very well and dreads the pending swarms which are among the most antagonistic of all biting flies. Within a couple weeks of their arrival, as if timed to an ancient biological alarm clock the Dragonfly return feasting on these insects. In fact they are so efficient that within a short amount of time the reign of the Black fly is over as quick as it came. The fact is that Dragonfly are a very important species that take up a niche within the ecosystem where us humans directly benefit.
So the next time your on a nature walk take the time to admire these spectacular examples of “Mother Nature’s” finest!
PS:The image on the right reminds me of a helicopter pilot hahaha.