Currently viewing the category: "Dragonflies and Damselflies"

How does a dragonfly nymph fly?
I was pottering around in the backyard, when I noticed a dragonfly nymph flitting about. A long time ago, I read that the dragonfly is one of only two insects (the other is the hawk moth ) that can’t close its wings once they open out. So the natural question is how does the nymph fly without the wings opened out? I’ve uploaded a photo of the dragonfly nymph, or what I think is a dragonfly nymph.

Hi Shastri
First I will answer your question. Dragonfly nymphs do not fly. They are immature, wingless and live under the water. Adult Dragonflies cannot fold their wings. Your photo is of a close relative known as a Damselfly. Damselflies can be distinguised from Dragonflies by the fact that they can fold their wings. Thanks for the photo.

what is this?
Hi – We love your site.
Hopefully you can help us. We live in Mid Michigan (Lansing) and my son (age 6) found this exoskeleton on a walk today. I don’t even know where to begin to find out what it is. (Well, I do, because I’m sending you an email.)
Lysne (and Liam)

Hi Lysne and Liam,
I’m guessing you found this exoskeleton near a pond or other body of water. It is the final molted skin of a dragonfly. The larvae, known as nymphs, are aquatic and predatory. They have an amazing detachable jaw that emerges as the nymph attacks prey, small aquatic insects, tadpoles and even fish. The nymph eventually crawls out of the water, molts and flies away as an adult dragonfly. Isn’t metamorphosis amazing?

Three Bugs from near Sedona, AZ
The third photo was taken on the West Fork trail in the same area. Lovely dragonfly. I think the body was about 2 – 2 1/2 inches long and the wing span was about 3 inches. If you can identify any of these, I’d be grateful.
Su — Mesa, AZ

Hi Su,
Your Dragonfly looks like a Red Skimmer, Libellula saturata. This is a warm region species. It breeds in stagnant small ponds and pools. It is conspicuous because of its large size.

Correction: Sat, Feb 21, 2009 at 3:38 AM
Good morning, If I may, this is a Red Rock Skimmer(Paltothemis lineatipes).
Renaud, Switzerland

Dear Bugman :o)
I just found your site yesterday and spent a few hours looking at all of the amazing bugs that you have listed there. I noticed a section for dragonflies and thought you might be interested in a picture of another variety. I live in Florida, and find these guys around my yard. I have some other bug photos around here somewhere (there’s a lot of neat bugs here in Florida) and I will send them if I see that you do not already have photos to represent them.
Thanks for the great site, it’s listed in my favorites under the "~~~Way Cool!" folder.
Have a great day!

Hi Maddy,
We are honored to be in your Way Cool folder. If you try to visit over the next few weeks, you will find us shut down due to heavy traffic. We will return in September. The beginning of the month is the best time to log on. We are posting your photo of a Green Clearwing, Erythemis simpliciollis. It is common in the South. The green and brown striped abdomen is distinctive.

Hello Bugman,
I just came over your site on the internet. I like taking macro shots of insect and today I have taken an interesting one. There are were some red dots on the wing of a dragonfly. I think maybe they can be some sort of insects or mites. I live in Hungary, Europe I hope you can help me anyway…
Best regards.
Ambruzs Péter

Dear Ambruzs Péter,
Your photo is beautiful. We suspect you have photographed the Locust Mite, Eutrombidium rostratum. Essig writes that it : “is the common locust mite of the United States and Europe. It is a large bright red species. … They are often taken on the body and wings of grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and mantids, and do not attack humans.” Even if it is not that exact species, you have most definitely photographed mites hitching a ride on your dragonfly.

Update:  August 18, 2017
Thanks to several comments we have received on this very old posting, we now realize these are larval Water Mites.  According to Northwest Dragonflier:  “Although odonates carrying water mites typically appear to be healthy and energetic, studies indicate that their longevity, flying endurance, and reproductive success can be negatively impacted by the stowaways. This seems to be especially true when lots of mites cluster together and cause significant damage to the cuticle of the exoskeleton, perhaps leading to desiccation. I assume that clusters of mites at particular locations on the odonate body—until they drop off anyway—can also interfere with reproduction by impeding copulation or by blocking sperm transference to the male’s secondary genitalia. It seems that just a few mites attached to unobtrusive areas of the body have negligible impact, and it’s more of a commensal relationship in that case.”

We are jumping right on the opportunity to start a new page with this photo we just took in our garden of a common dragonfly known as the Big Red Skimmer, Libellula saturata. There are many myths associated with dragonflies as well as many colorful common names including Devil’s Darning Needle, Snake Doctors, Horse Stingeres and Caballos del Diablo. They do not bite and are helpful in eliminating harmful insect pests, especially mosquitos.