If you’ve ever seen a dragonfly fly over water, you know how captivating they are!
But while they are among the oldest flying insects (they’ve been around for 250-300 million years), scientists are still learning about them.
Here are 10 things we do know:
1. There is more than 5,000 species of dragonflies in the world. About 130 species have been observed in Ontario.
2. One of the most popular species here is the green darning. It is one of the easiest dragonflies to recognize because it has a bright green thorax (the middle section of the body).
Green Darner Naiad (larva). Photo: David Bree
3. Green Darners are around ponds, lakes and wetlands in Ontario.
4. Some Green Darners migrate south in the fall. You can see “bands” of them rising from the grass along the shores of the Great Lakes in late August in parks like Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Darlington Provincial Park, and Sandbanks Provincial Park. From here, they descend the east coast of the US. Their destination? Probably the southern United States, but no one knows for sure.
5. Dragonflies are hard to catchwhich makes it difficult to carry out labeling or transmission programs, although there are some already underway.
6. Many species of dragonflies, including the Green Darner, They gather in swarms to feed or migrate, a phenomenon that can be seen in Ontario in spring and fall. Because? Possibly to defend itself from predators, but scientists don’t know for sure.
Photo: David Bree
7. Dragonflies almost have 360 degree vision.
8. They are amazing flyers. They have two pairs of wings so they can fly up or down, backward, fly upside down, and float.
9. Dragonflies are great hunters. In their larval stage – which can last up to five years – they live in water and eat anything that comes close to them, including aquatic insects, tadpoles and small fish. As adults they eat flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, butterflies, flying ants and even other dragonflies, which they catch while flying.
10. Adult dragonflies They live, on average, only five weeks.
Do you want to know more about the dragonflies you can see in Ontario?
Grab a field guide. He Algonquin Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Park and Surrounding Areas and the Photographic Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of Southern Ontario are the two commonly used here.
Then, head to the nearest pond, wetland, or beach with a pair of binoculars and start observing these fascinating insects. Fall is a great time to spot dragonflies!
If you can’t identify a dragonfly, take a photo and tag it to us on Twitter. #AskanOPNaturalist. One of our naturalists will be happy to tell you what he saw.
Today’s data came courtesy of our Presqu’ile Provincial Park naturalist, David Bree, who has been intrigued by dragonflies for years.
Do you want to contribute to dragonfly science? Share your sightings on iNaturalist.
Reporting what types of dragonflies you see, where you see them, and in what quantities helps scientists gather important information.