DAMSELFLIES; DRAGONFLIES; ANISOPTERA; ZYGOPTERA; DRAGONFLIES AND DAMSELFLIES
Odonate larvae are not choosy hunters; they will eat any animal as large or smaller than themselves, including tadpoles, fish fry, and even other odonate larvae. The larvae move by a type of jet propulsion in which they squirt water out to create a moving force. As they grow, larvae undergo about ten to twenty molts. After the final molt, they emerge as an adult; there is no pupal stage. Emergance takes place on a fixed support out of water. Young adults, which can be recognized by a glassy sheen on the wings, fly away from water for a while to feed and mature, and some develop new color.
Adult odonata have well-developed eyes and hunt mostly by sight. They are also extremely agile fliers and catching one can be even more difficult than capturing a housefly. Adult males generally hang out near water to be seen by females, who mostly stay away from water until they are ready to mate and lay eggs.
In mating, the male and female form a 'wheel' position: The male gets in front and clasps the head of the female with the claspers at the end of his abdomen; the female is behind and bends her abdomen downward to the secondary genitalia of the male where she will receive his sperm. Dragonflies can mate while perched but can also (and often do) mate while in flight. The male is often present while the female lays her eggs so that other male competition will not disturb her. The female uses her ovipositor to lay the eggs on or into aquatic plants. If she does not have an ovipositor, she will disperse her eggs on the surface of the water. -- (Tree of Life)
Odonata adults need sunshine and warmth for their daily activity, and that is why you never see them on cold or cloudy days. Many species must therefore warm themselves before they fly, and they do this in two ways. First, they bask in the sunlight at right angles to the sunlight so they can get the most out of the suns rays. Second, when they are perched, they rapidly shiver their flight muscles, which creates heat. Some large odonata can overheat on hot days. To prevent this, they begin to make longer glides between wing beats (Miller, 1987).
There are many interesting facts and misconceptions about odonata biology and behavior. Many people believe that odonata live for only one day. This is not true. The odonata life-cycle can be from a few months to even a several years. One fascinating fact is that they can fly up to speeds of 25-30 miles per hour. Also, adult odonata will feed on mosquitoes, which can be good, yet they even eat butterflies. Some will even take spiders from their webs! As mentioned before, odonata antennae are extremely small. They rely mostly on their large eyes rather than their senses of touch or smell. Odonata can sometimes be seen flying in large swarms and this is probably due to either good feeding conditions in the area or a mass migration (like those of birds). -- (British Dragonfly Society)
How to encounter:
Odonates can be found in almost any type of freshwater habitat since they breed in these areas. Look for them near rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, and even marshes and swamps.
|Following modified from University of Guelph|
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|Following served from George Doerksen, Nature Watch|
|Following modified from US Family Checklist, USGS|
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