Dragonflies are like living fossils because they have been on Earth for more than 250 million years. That is longer than the dinosaurs! They live for about 6 months to 7 years but are aquatic insect which means they spend most of their life in the water. So, when they become adults, they only live for a couple of weeks. Dragonflies have a head with 2 large compound eyes consisting of about 30 thousand lens which cover most of the head, 2 small antennae which can’t be seen without close examination, 2 pairs of wings, 6 spiny legs, a mouthpart, a slender body, a thorax, and a long, thin segmented abdomen.
Dragonflies have an armor that is both very resistant and very flexible. It has an extremely complex flight mechanism and superb maneuverability which allows it to move in different directions swiftly. They start with being in the eggs, the first stage in their lives.
After being born, they become naiads which is the second stage in their lives. They have gills that are inside their abdomen instead of outside which allows them to swim like a jet. With this technique, they can escape from their predators.
They look like dragonflies when they are naiads, but are a bit uglier and don’t have wings. During the time they are naiads, they feed on minnows, tad poles, aquatic insects including ones that are larger than themselves and other small, live prey. They are also eaten by other creatures in where they live. They catch their prey by using two movable claw-like hooks when they come close.
When they are fully grown, they bury themselves or attached themselves to underwater plants.
When they are ready to become winged adults, naiads climb to the surface of the water, usually on a plant’s stem or an exposed rock, and molt for the last time in their life. This is when dragonflies come to their last stage in life. Adult dragonflies are active in the spring, summer, or fall seasons depending on the species. They mate in mid-air. Then, the female dragonflies dip their abdomens into water to deposit the eggs to start the cycle over again. Some dragonflies make their habitat in marshy land, others like clean water or the still waters of the ponds.
Then, there are still other species, which have cool running waters of the streams or rivers. Dragonflies are choosy about their habitat and do not like to live in polluted water. If you live in a place where you happen to see dragonflies around, it is a good sign that the ecosystem there is in a perfect and good condition because dragonflies are sensitive to pollution. Dragonflies are completely beneficial and are not considered pest because they are a predator of mosquitoes, gnats, winged ant and other small insects and don’t harm people, pets, crops, landscape plants or houses.
They capture their prey by colliding into it at a speed of 25 MPH. The impact can knock out or even kill the prey, but the flexibility in the dragonfly’s armor absorbs the impact so the dragonfly doesn’t get hurt. Following the collision, the rear legs of dragonflies stretch forward and capture their shocked prey, which is when the dragonfly consumes its prey. The world’s leading helicopter manufacturer, Sikorsky, finished the design of one of their helicopters by taking the dragonfly as a model.
This assisted Sikorsky in there project. It started by putting a model of a dragonfly in a computer. Two thousand special sketches were done on the computer when light was on the dragonfly in the air. So, Sikorsky’s model for transporting artillery was built from advance information gained from dragonflies. Another reason they are trying to base their helicopters on the dragonflies is because no matter what speed or direction it’s already moving in, it can stop and start flying in a different directions.
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