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Frequently Asked Questions

Q   Can dragonflies fly upside down?
A   These acrobats have been known to fly upside down at times.

Q   How long do dragonflies live?
A   Adult dragonflies usually don't live much more than two weeks. Most dragonflies don't die of old age but are caught by predators.  If they do survive, they still don't live much longer than a maximum of two months.

Q   How fast do dragonflies beat their wings?
A  It is estimated in some species of Darners to be around 28 beats per second.

Q   Are the male and female dragonflies different in color?
A   Males are frequently more brilliant than females and often have different colors and patterns as well.

Q   How do dragonflies steer?
A  Steering is done primarily by the wings; the long slender abdomen is used to maintain balance.

Q   During the larval stage, what factors determine how quickly the dragonfly grows?
A  The dragonfly's larvae stage can be as short as 10 days and as long as several years!  Weather, environment and genetics have the greatest influence.

Q   Do dragonflies hear?
A  No, they reply solely on vision for navigation and feeding.

Q   Why do dragonflies seek food in two different environments in their lifetime?
A   Young dragonflies (nymphs) feed on small water animals.  As adults dragonflies can travel greater distances and heights and feed on flying insects.

Q   How long does it take for dragonflies to develop their full colors?
A  The newly emerged adult (commonly referred to as teneral) may take up to 1-2 weeks to develop its full color.

Q   Are dragonflies cannibalistic?
A   They eat mostly other insects including other dragonflies; I have never known one yet to eat people.

Q   How is it that a dragonfly can move his two pair of wings independently and still be an excellent flier?
A  Because dragonflies time the stroke of the hind pair so that they meet the oncoming air before it has been distributed by the front pair of wings.

Q   Do dragonflies bite?
A   If you put your finger next to a captured dragonfly, it may give you a little pinch with its powerful jaws but not hard enough to make you bleed.

Q   Can I watch dragonflies only on sunny days?
A   For the most part, yes.  Some of the hardier species, however, will occasionally fly on overcast days.

Q   Where can I meet with others like me, who enjoy the hobby of dragonfly watching?
A  There are several organizations that sponsor workshops, seminars and field trips. To view these CLICK HERE.

Q   How can I attract dragonflies to my backyard?
A  Unlike butterflies that are attracted by flowers, dragonflies are attracted by water. Installing a small pond will surely bring you some visitors.

Q   What if I cannot properly identify a dragonfly even after having looked at the field guides?
A  There are many people out there like yourself who are just learning, and many people out there who would be more than happy to share their knowledge on the subject. CLICK HERE TO FIND SOMEONE IN YOUR AREA.

Q   How fast can a dragonfly fly?
A  Cruising speed of 24 mph has been recorded but they have been known to reach speeds of up to 35 mph.

Q  Where can I find and collect dragonfly larvae?
A  In almost any body of water - rivers, brooks, ponds and lakes - either in bottom sand or silt or hanging on weeds or vegetation around the waters edge.  I have found many in open areas such as on  rocks and bridge structures.

Q   Can you identify the larvae's species just by looking at it?
A   This takes practice and a good textbook. CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF PUBLICATIONS.

Q   I've noticed the wings on some dragonflies worn or torn.  What is this from?
A  Worn wings are like "dragonfly wrinkles"; it is a sign of age.

Q   What is meant by  incomplete metamorphosis?
A  It is an indirect metamorphosis in which the immature stages do not change directly to the adult but pass through an intermediate form.

Q   What is meant then by complete metamorphosis?
A  It is a direct metamorphosis in which the immature stage changes directly to the adult form such as what the butterfly does.

Q   Are dragonflies beneficial to man?
A  On the whole they probably are since many of them kill a great number of mosquitoes and black flies as nymphs as well as adults.  They are also very important indicators of water quality. 

Q   Are there government regulations on the collecting of insects?
A  You should never attempt to catch an endangered species no matter where you are.  Various local, state, and federal properties have regulations governing capture and collection.  Be sure you know what the rules are before you start swinging your net!

Q   Can I send live dragonflies through the mail?
A  It is extremely difficult!  You would need a permit from the Chief of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine to send live dragonflies via the post office.

Q   What does the common word "dragonfly" mean?
A  "Toothed One"

© 2021 Sheryl Chacon Search