Dragonflies have been around for about 300 million years. There are a lot of myths and fables around these tiny insects. Some believe they are actually descendants of dragons although no substantial evidence is there to support it.
There are more than 5000 species of dragonflies around the world, distributed across all continents except Antarctica. Some characteristics are common to all species, like multifaceted eyes, long body and two pair of wings. They are very good fliers and one of the largest flying insects. However, they can fly only for a few weeks at the most as their lifetime is very short. They lay eggs in water bodies and spend a major part of their life in the larva stage. The duration of this stage can be up to three years in some species. After becoming an adult, they live for only a few weeks.
The wings of dragonflies can operate together or independently. It gives the dragonfly the ability to fly in six directions and in four different styles. Some species can fly for a long time continuously. The Globe Skimmer dragonfly migrates across the Indian Ocean for a distance of about 11,000 miles. The larger species of dragonflies are faster than the smaller ones. In general, their speed varies between 20 to 35 mph. However, there are several reports that dragonflies can reach up to 60 mph in flight. It was reported by famous entomologist Robert John Tillyard in the article The Biology of Dragonflies in 1917. He observed that a fly of the species Austrophlebia costalis reached a speed of 98 kph along a downward flight. However, there are no other reliable sources available to support this claim. Still the speed of 35 mph makes dragonflies among the fastest insects.
The eyes of dragonflies are a special feature of them. They have large spherical eyes, with nearly thirty thousand facets in each one. The insects such have a field of vision of almost 360°. The combination of the flying ability and sight makes it easy for dragonflies to catch the prey. They are among the best predators in animal kingdom. According to scientific studies, they catch 95% of the prey they target, making them more successful than lions and sharks.
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