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Facts about Dragonflies for Kids


Dragonflies are characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies can sometimes be mistaken for damselflies, which are morphologically similar, however adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest.

  • Dragonflies are important predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, wasps, and very rarely butterflies.
  • Formerly, the Anisoptera were given suborder rank beside the “ancient dragonflies” (Anisozygoptera), which were believed to contain the two living species of the genus Epiophlebia and numerous fossil ones.
  • Thus, the Anisoptera (true dragonflies) are reduced to an infraorder in the new suborder Epiprocta (dragonflies in general).
  • The artificial grouping Anisozygoptera is disbanded, its members being largely recognized as extinct offshoots at various stages of dragonfly evolution.
  • Female dragonflies lay eggs in or near water, often on floating or emergent plants.
  • When laying eggs, some species will submerge themselves completely in order to lay their eggs on a good surface.
  • The eggs then hatch into nymphs.
  • Most of a dragonfly’s life is spent in the nymph form, beneath the water’s surface, using extendable jaws to catch other invertebrates or even vertebrates such as tadpoles and fish.
  • The skin splits at a weak spot behind the head and the adult dragonfly crawls out of its old larval skin, pumps up its wings, and flies off to feed on midges and flies.
  • The Southern United States term “snake doctor” refers to a folk belief that dragonflies follow snakes around and stitch them back together if they are injured.
  • For some Native American tribes they represent swiftness and activity, and for the Navajo they symbolize pure water.
  • Dragonflies are a common motif in Zuni pottery; stylized as a double-barred cross, they appear in Hopi rock art and on Pueblo necklaces.
  • In the United States dragonflies and damselflies are sought out as a hobby similar to birding and butterflying, known as oding, from the dragonfly’s Latin species name, odonata.
  • With care, and with dry fingers, dragonflies can be handled and released by oders, as can be done with butterflies, though it is not encouraged.
  • As a seasonal symbol in Japan, the dragonfly is associated with early and late summer and early autumn.
  • More generally, in Japan dragonflies are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness, and they often appear in art and literature, especially haiku.