Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dragonfly

Dragonflies and damselflies are among the largest and most colourful insects. They are carnivorous and can hunt prey while flying about. They breed in water. The eggs hatch into a brown nymph which spends up to four years in the water before emerging as the colourful adult. Both are belong to the order Odonata. Order Odonata divide into three suborders: Zygoptera, the damselflies; Anisoptera, the dragonflies; and Anisozygoptera, a group somewhere in between the two. The Anisozygoptera suborder includes only one or two living odonates.


Dragonflies and damselflies are large or moderate sized predaceous insects. The body is long, often slender. The head is big with very large and prominent eyes. The antennae are thin and very short. They have four wings which are approximately the same size. The wings are membraneous with many veins. They have six legs with hooks. Hooks are also found on the tail end of males for clasping females. Nymphs of dragonflies and damselflies are aquatic.


How to differentiate between these two suborders? Here is some information that you can use to identify whether it is dragonflies or damselflies.
i. Dragonflies are big and acrobatic in flight. They like to attract attention. Damselflies are small and dainty and only fly short distances.
ii. Dragonfly resting or feeding holds its four wings straight out from its body. Damselflies at rest hold their wings folded or slightly spread, but close to their bodies.
iii. The fore and hind wings of a damselfly are the same shape. They all have narrow bases at the point of attachment to the abdomen. The wings of a dragonfly are different shapes. The fore wings have narrow bases while the hind wings are wide at the base.
iv. The aquatic nymphs of dragonflies and damselflies are also different. Nymphs of the damselflies have three tails like projections. These are gills, and are absent in dragonfly nymphs.

Hope this info will help those who did not know about this pretty insects. This three photos are the best shots that i ever did for a dragonflies. I never success to capture any of their photos before. I was lucky that this guy did not move while i am trying to get closer to him. Next time i will try to get a photos of damselflies but i know it will be more difficult to get. Till then!!
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