Last summer, several areas of Florida were overwhelmed with dragonflies! In one story, residents of Broward and Palm Beach County reported that they were not only out in force, but sometimes literally covered bushes or areas of standing water. Known sometimes as the “mosquito hawk”, these creatures voraciously eat pesky critters like mosquitoes. But there are some other facts about the dragonfly that most people don’t really know:
* The best way to attract dragonflies is to build a pond. The pond doesn’t have to be large, but it should be at minimum two feet deep in the center with variable depths throughout. It needs plants, both in the water and around the edge to help attract the dragonflies. When complete, it also needs to be situated in a place that will get midday sun and be protected from winds. This standing pool of water is used to attract dragonfly mommas who will lay eggs and raise their young.
* Because they eat other bugs such as mosquitoes, wasps and flies so they are considered beneficial insects.
* Some species of dragonflies can live up to five years, although the average life-span for smaller species is only around six months.
* Dragonflies don’t follow their prey through the air in order to catch it. Instead, they actually anticipate where they prey is going to be and intercept their feast mid-air. They are so good at this prediction that they capture approximately 95% of what they are aiming for.
* Many bugs have multiple eye facets that allow them to get a panoramic view of their environment. Flies have 6,000 eye facets. The dragonfly has 30,000 eye facets which allow the dragonfly to virtually see in a 360-degree mode. In addition, they are able to perceive in multiple spectrums, such as the UV spectrum and a polarized-light spectrum.
* They are able to control each wing separately. Using their wings, they are able to hover, fly backwards, fly sideways or even fly upside down when needed.
* Dragonfly nymphs (baby and juvenile of the species) actually live underwater. They propel themselves forward by shooting water out of their rectum.
* Dragonflies do not travel much during their life. So long as a good source of water is available, they usually remain within several miles of their birth place.
* There have been fossils of dragonflies found and surprisingly, the insect has remained pretty much the same as exists today with one exception: the biggest dragonfly fossil found had a wingspan of over three feet!