Dragonfly
(Common Name)
Predator
(General Category)
Odonata: Anisoptera
(Taxonomic Classification)
Many species
(Scientific Name)

Dragonfly adult witrh rollover ID charactersDragonfly nymph with rollover ID characters

Description: Dragonflies are iconic insects that are widely seen and recognized. Dragonfly adults are generalist predators that use their bristly legs to scoop up whichever day-flying insects are abundant, often flies. They are extremely agile, fast fliers. The aquatic nymphs (naiads) feed on a variety of aquatic organisms, including mosquito larvae. Because most of the life cycle (1 - several years) is spent in the nymphal stage, dragonflies require a permanment body of water.

Identification:  Rollover pictures with mouse for tips on how to identify these predators. Adults: Huge eyes that cover most of the head. Tiny antennae. Two pairs of large clear wings that cannot be folded at rest. Long, narrow abdomen. Many different colors. Nymphs: Aquatic nymphs (called naiads) crawl out of water when full grown so adults can emerge (eclose), leaving empty nymphal skin behind. Extendible mandibles that can catch prey from some distance away (click here to see video). Well developed eyes on large head. Robust body, sometimes camoflaged.

Value in Pest Management: Because mosquitoes are included in the diet of both adults and naiads, dragonflies contribute to natural control of these pest insects. They are not sold commercially.

Origin and Distribution:  Native, throughout eastern North America (http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Dragonflies).

For More Information:  (LINKS)

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/arthropoda/uniramia/odonatoida.html

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/odonata/odonata.htm