Dragonflies

Dragonflies have been on Earth an incredibly long time, way before the appearance of the first dinosaurs.

August 28, 2012 | | Blogs | Environment | Notes from the Wild

The air dances with a glorious diversity of dragonflies at this time of year. They can be found almost anywhere, but congregate in the greatest numbers and variety around wetlands. A walk by any pond or lake will allow you to enjoy the aerial acrobatics of these small predators.

Dragonflies have been on Earth an incredibly long time. Their ancestors were flying in the Carboniferous era, millions of years before the appearance of the first dinosaurs. Some of these were true insect giants. The air, saturated with much more oxygen than it is today, allowed them to grow to the size of crows!

One wonders how large their prey was then – flies the size of sparrows perhaps?

Modern dragonflies help control the profusion of biting flies that appear in the summer. They will sometimes ambush these flies as they torment large mammals – large mammals like us. I’ve cheered on dragonflies hunting deer flies orbiting my head. Once a dragonfly even used my shoulder as a perch to consume its prize.

Dragonfly larvae are equally effective predators. They patrol the waters of ponds, lakes and streams in search of other aquatic invertebrates, small fish and tadpoles. Jet propelled, they dart forward by shooting water out of their butts and they grab prey with fearsome extendable jaws.

Dragonflies have inspired some delightful folk beliefs. My aunt called them “darning needles” and warned that they would sew my mouth shut. Perhaps I talked too much as a child.

Dragonflies are obliging photographic subjects. Unlike butterflies that move in unpredictable patterns, dragonflies often return repeatedly to the same perch. There they pose, allowing a photographer ample time to set up and compose the shot. Dragonflies are so beautiful and so co-operative that memorable images are almost guaranteed.

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

Comments

1 Comment

  1. Dear Don,

    Lovely story and your photos are incredibly great! Beautiful colour, lots of detail… perfect! Your pennant pair together is particularly spectacular! I love the slide show, too. Got to learn how to do that myself.

    Thanks for sending me the link to your blog.
    Margaret

    Margaret Bream from Toronto on Oct 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to vjones@inthehills.ca.