Six Facts That Make Dragonflies Magnificent

Dragonflies are recognized as a symbol of luck to people all over the world, including the Acoma Pueblo Tribe. This is part of the reason why Inspired Natives Collaborator Michelle Lowden (Acoma Pueblo) designs dragonflies throughout her work. Check out the facts below to fathom how these dazzling insects have adapted throughout the centuries and thrive today.

1. Dragonflies Begin Their Life Underwater – For Up to Two Years!


A dragonfly larva in the water. Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation.


Dragonflies evolved 300 million years ago, which is before dinosaurs and birds. Hatching from an egg in the water, a dragonfly feasts on tadpoles, fish, mosquitoes and even other larvae. Eventually, it climbs out of the liquid home and cracks open its exoskeleton, stretching out its abdomen that’s been packed away. Finally, the wings dry and harden as they spread out.


2. Two Massive Eyes Make Up Most of a Dragonfly’s Head


Blue Dasher Dragonfly eyes. Photo by Richard and Pam Winegar.


A pair of compound eyes with 30,000 facets take up a dragonfly’s head. Except for the one blind spot directly behind them, these eyes give the dragonfly 360-degree vision.


3. Dragonflies Can Fly in All Directions


A dragonfly angling its wings and hovering. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.


Flying up, down, sideways, backwards – dragonflies do it all! They even hover. They accomplish this with two sets of wings that can be controlled independently, allowing them to change the angle of their wings as they fly. On top of that, some species can reach flying speeds of 18 mph (29 kph).


4. One Dragonfly Species Migrates Thousands of Miles


A globe skimmer resting on a branch. Photo by Jee & Rani Nature Photography.


The globe skimmer or wandering glider – a dragonfly with the longest migration of all insects – travels 11,000 miles (17,702 kilometers) across oceans. Throughout this journey, this little 1.5 inch dragonfly can go 4,400 miles (7,081 kilometers) without landing!


5. Dragonflies Are Expert Hunters


A dragonfly eating its prey. Photo by Kim Young.


Dragonflies maintain around a 95% success rate while hunting. Their success comes from snatching prey out of the air with their feet and ripping it apart with serrated mandibles — a strong jaw with points sort of like teeth. But no need to worry, dragonflies would only bite humans out of defense and their bite isn’t likely to break skin!


6. The Dragonfly’s Diet is a Bonus for Humans!


A dragonfly glides through a garden near the Hudson River in New York City. Photo by Joshua Bright.


In their adult stage, dragonflies eat irritating insects like biting flies and mosquitos. In fact, one dragonfly can chow down on 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes each day. To repay the dragonfly, let’s protect their habitats like fields, forests, rivers and lakes! It would be lovely if this multitalented insect and sign of good luck could hang around a while longer.