Quick Facts\r\n\r\n \tScientific Name: Anisoptera\r\n \tSymbolism: Various, including happiness, speed, purity, good luck, evil\r\n \tLife Cycle: Begins as larvae, before shedding its exoskeleton and sprouting wings\r\n \tHabitat: Near bodies of fresh water\r\n \tDiet: Insects and small animals like tadpoles and fish\r\n \tWeight: Between 0.0001 ounce to 0.1 ounce\r\n \tSize: 1 to 4 inches in length\r\n \tSpeed: Up to 60 miles per hour\r\n \tLifespan: 6 months to 7 years\r\n \tDragonfly in Spanish: Lib\u00e9lula\r\n\r\nEssential Facts\r\n\r\n \tSpecies: Not All Dragonflies are Actually Dragonflies\r\n \tPredators: Dragonflies Are Deadly Hunters\r\n \tUnusual Trait: Dragonflies Can Predict Where Their Prey Will Fly\r\n \tEyes: Dragonflies Have the Best Vision of All\r\n \tVisual Range: Dragonflies Can See Across Several Spectrums\r\n \tDiet: Dragonflies Don\u2019t Stop Eating\r\n \tManeuverability: Dragonfly Wings Are Nature\u2019s Best\r\n \tDeadly: Dragonflies Are Killing Machines\r\n \tBreeding: Dragonflies Have Strange Mating Habits\r\n \tYoung: Dragonfly Babies Are More Dangerous Than Adults\r\n\r\nInteresting Details\r\n\r\n \tSome Cultures Adore Dragonflies\r\n \tDragonflies Are Considered Bad in Some European Cultures\r\n \tDragonflies Were the World\u2019s First Winged Insects\r\n \tDragonflies Sometimes Gather in Swarms\r\n \tThe Globe Skinner Travels Across the Indian Ocean\r\n\r\nNot All Dragonflies are Actually Dragonflies\r\nThe first of our dragonfly facts is that there are over 3,000 species out there, with new ones being discovered all the time. But did you know that some creatures that appear to be dragonflies are not actually so? Damselflies are not really dragonflies, even though they look exactly like them, and many people mistake them for dragonflies. You can tell dragonflies apart because when at rest, they hold their wings flat and away from their bodies. Damselflies, on the other hand, hold their wings against their bodies.\r\nDragonflies Are Deadly Hunters\r\nAlthough they\u2019re often associated with beauty, dragonflies don\u2019t quite live up to their symbolism. Scientists found fossils they call Meganeura, meaning\u00a0giant dragonflies. These creatures were such deadly hunters that they could have taken over the earth. Though now much smaller, dragonflies still make formidable hunters. Most eat small insects, but they\u2019ll eat bigger ones if they can get away with it. Many are also cannibals. Some of the larger species will even eat bigger animals, like tadpoles and small fish.\r\nDragonflies Can Predict Where Their Prey Will Fly\r\nThe most astounding of our dragonfly facts was discovered in 1999. Scientists used to think they chased their prey, but it\u2019s now known that dragonfly brains can predict where their prey will go based on its speed, direction, and size. They can pop up at a particular spot before their prey do, so their food flies directly into their mouths. Dragonflies catch their prey an impressive 95% of the time. By contrast, sharks have a 50% success rate, while lions stand at 25%.\r\nDragonflies Have the Best Vision of All\r\nThe human eye can see straight ahead, and, through peripheral vision, a little to the right, left, above, and below. Compared to flying insects, however, this is nothing. Most have around 6,000 eye facets. This means that they can see all around them at the same time, a valuable tool if you fly. The average dragonfly, on the other hand, has around 30,000 individual facets, which means they get 30,000 individual images which their brains turn into a single picture.\r\nDragonflies Can See Across Several Spectrums\r\nDragonflies also have the best visual range. Human eyes have three opsins, which allow us to see the visible colors of the rainbow. Dragonflies have five opsins, which lets them see the colors we do, but also lets them see invisible (to us) UV light. They can also filter light to reduce glare, while we need sunglasses to do the same. This is why dragonflies are so very hard to catch. They can see all around them simultaneously, and can do so in both darkness and light.\r\nDragonflies Don\u2019t Stop Eating\r\nOne of the most disturbing dragonfly facts recently discovered involved how they eat. Most creatures will only eat until they are full, but this is not the case with dragonflies. Researchers have found that these creatures will keep eating for as long as there is food available. The only time they\u2019ll stop eating is when there\u2019s no more to eat. In an experiment, a dragonfly was given 30 flies, so it ate them all in quick succession. Dragonflies can actually eat one-fifth of their own body weight every day.\r\nDragonfly Wings Are Nature\u2019s Best\r\nScientists are fascinated by dragonfly and damselfly wings because they\u2019re so maneuverable. Both species have four wings, each of which can operate independently. This allows them to fly, hover, zoom forwards, backwards, and sideways. They can do so because each wing has its own set of muscles. No other insects have the same degree of control, which is why they\u2019re all prey to dragonflies. Because they can\u2019t really walk, only support their own weight, dragonflies will eat and mate in flight.\r\nDragonflies Are Killing Machines\r\nAmong the less-known of our dragonfly facts is that they\u2019re built to kill. Odonata is the Greek word for \u201ctoothed ones\u201d, and, while most dragonflies couldn\u2019t break human skin, insects stand no chance. When dragonflies catch their prey, their two front legs grip it, preventing escape. Then their jaws shred the wings. Finally, they begin feeding. Dragonfly jaws can open as wide as their heads. Even when trapped in a spider\u2019s web, many dragonflies have been seen eating their captors.\r\nDragonflies Have Strange Mating Habits\r\nWhile most species have courting rituals, dragonflies don\u2019t. Males simply attack females by clamping them with their forelegs and jaws. Scientists are still baffled by the male organ, because it has barbs in it. They think it\u2019s to scoop out the semen of rival males to ensure his mate only produces his children. Some species will then guard the female to make sure no others can have her. Once the male is sure the female\u2019s eggs have been fertilized, he\u2019ll then leave her.\r\nDragonfly Babies Are More Dangerous Than Adults\r\nDragonflies are born in water as larvae, called nymphs, and move by shooting water out of their rectums. Among the most well-known of our dragonfly facts is that they\u2019re even more voracious than adults, feeding on bigger creatures and even human flesh. This period can last for up to two years, after which time the nymph will crawl out of the water, discard its exoskeleton, and sprout wings. It can take a few hours to a few days before they finally dry off, allowing them to fly.\r\nSome Cultures Adore Dragonflies\r\nMany Amerindian cultures associate dragonflies with the wind, as well as with happiness, speed, and purity. The Chinese believe they bring harmony and prosperity, and consider them good luck symbols. To the Japanese, they are associated with summer and autumn, as well as power, agility, and victory. They were especially revered by the Japanese Samurai warrior caste for their ability to move quietly, elegantly, and still be such effective predators \u2013 qualities that the Samurai no doubt hoped to cultivate among themselves.\r\nDragonflies Are Considered Bad in Some European Cultures\r\nEuropeans, by contrast, think dragonflies are awful things. Traditionally associated with bad luck, some believed that they were evil creatures sent by the devil to sow chaos and confusion. This is why the Welsh call them \u201cthe snake\u2019s servants\u201d. Since some species bite, the British call them Ear Cutters and Devil\u2019s Needles. The Portuguese refer to them as Eye Pokers, while the Swedes thought they punished mischievous children or told them lies. Still others associated them with witches and demons.\r\nDragonflies Were the World\u2019s First Winged Insects\r\nNot only were prehistoric dragonflies much bigger than they are today, it is believed that they may also have been the first insects to develop wings. According to fossil records, dragonflies may have first developed functional wings sometime around 300 million years ago during the Permian Period. While some of today\u2019s bigger dragonflies can have wingspans which measure up to five inches across, that\u2019s nothing compared to their prehistoric ancestors who had wingspans as wide as two feet across.\r\nDragonflies Sometimes Gather in Swarms\r\nAlthough most dragonfly species tend to be solitary creatures except during mating season, those in the Western Hemisphere have different habits entirely. It\u2019s a common thing, especially in late summer and early autumn, to see many different dragonfly species gather in vast swarms. No one is sure if they do this to feed, to mate, or to migrate, but an organization in America which calls itself the Dragonfly Swarm Project was set up to get to the bottom of it.\r\nThe Globe Skinner Travels Across the Indian Ocean\r\nSome dragonflies are migratory, depending on the climate they are indigenous to. The average migratory dragonfly travels around 7.5 miles a day as it escapes the oncoming winter, but, recently, a world record was confirmed. Scientists attached tiny transmitters to various migratory dragonfly species and discovered one that beats all records. The globe skinner not only supersedes all dragonfly species, but all insects. This breed travels some 11,000 miles back and forth across the Indian Ocean every year.\r\n\r\nDragonfly Facts \u2013 Facts about Dragonflies Summary\r\nDragonflies are beautiful but deadly creatures with the most complex eyes and the most versatile wings of any insect. Their brains can predict where their prey is heading, giving them a high success rate when hunting. According to fossil records, they are also the oldest winged insects on our planet. Though similar to damselflies, they are a separate species entirely. And while most are harmless, some species in the Western Hemisphere bite people, which is why some cultures think badly of them.