Elegant fliers, powerful predators
Posted July 16, 2014. Image courtesy of Carmen Sanchez . A blue dasher dragonfly rests on a perch at the ABQ BioPark.
Dragonflies spend their lives in and around water, first as aquatic nymphs and later patrolling the skies above ponds, streams and rivers. Even in our arid environment, dragonflies and damselflies find the wetter places and take up residence. In fact, nearly 150 different species live in New Mexico.
These insects may look like delicate creatures, but don’t let their bejeweled eyes, cellophane-like wings and slender bodies fool you. Dragonflies and damselflies are remarkably efficient predators. As nymphs, they help control other insect populations--like mosquitos--by catching larvae with their unusual extendable jaws. As adults, they zip, hover, and even fly backwards and upside-down, reaching speeds of 30 miles per hour and hunting with roughly 95 percent accuracy. One dragonfly might eat up to 1000 mosquitoes a day.
To see a dragonfly's hunting skills in action, enjoy this video from the New York Times.