Day 24: For the last Close Up Monday of 2019’s 30 Days Wild, I am focusing on dragonflies.
My interest was piqued after reading that these large, colourful insects spend most of their larval stage in water. When they emerge as adults they shed their exoskeleton and are found clinging to nearby foliage for two hours whilst they pump blood into their wings for flight.
There are three stages to the life cycle of a dragonfly: egg, nymph and adult.
egg: mating occurs whilst flying and afterwards the female will lay her eggs on or near water.
nymph: or larvae is the longest stage of the dragonfly life cycle and can take up to four years. During this time the nymph is aquatic and eats other nymphs.
adult: once the time and conditions are right the nymph will crawl out of the water and shed it’s exoskeleton or exuvia, whilst resting on a plant. On the wing they look for food (they are voracious hunters) and to mate (to begin the cycle again). The lifespan of an adult is two months.
There are 23 species of dragonfly in the UK. Along with damselflies, dragonflies are of the Odonata order, meaning ‘toothed jaws. Both species have four sets of wings. Dragonflies can beat each pair of wings together or separately, and can fly at almost 30mph. They breathe through spiracles in the side of the abdomen. Dragonflies predate on flies, mosquitoes, bees and butterflies. Dragonflies have the largest eyes of the insect world and 80% of their brain is devoted to vision.
It was during the hot summer of 2018 when I saw the most dragonflies.
Have you seen any dragonflies this year? What’s your favourite?
Thanks for reading, and stay wild!