These are some of my favorites. I used to have them in my garden in

Oregon in all different colors, … blue, green, orange-red …

They fold their legs together like a basket and can catch several

mosquitoes in the ‘basket’ at once. I used to put thin bamboo

sticks in the garden at random for a perch for them.

This past summer (as it was) I had the honor of observing these

strange bugs crawling out of the lake and onto the shore next to the

millions. They clung to benches, rocks, campfires,

bushes and everything and then I started to look at them more closely and

What happened? The ‘bugs broke open’ and a weird wet look

longer bug crawled out of shell. I looked a little more and

wings spread and dry and with a bit of dry undulation

more and it turned into a beautiful (HUGE) dragonfly. This miracle was

happening all over the place and soon as the day had warmed up,

there were thousands and thousands of 6-9 inch greenish dragonflies

taking the air and landed on me and my friends. Was

very cool.

Dragonflies are just one of the few types of creatures that feed on

mosquitoes, and for that, humans should be grateful. In this and

In other ways, dragonflies play an important role in maintaining the

balance of biodiversity in the coastal ecosystem.

In existence for the last 280-380 million years, dragonflies are

some of the oldest insects that exist. The first dragonflies to

existed were much larger than the current species, having a

wingspan reaching 35 inches. Today, the wingspan of dragonflies rarely

exceed 10 inches, however these insects can still reach speeds

19 miles per hour. In addition to two elongated wings,

Dragonflies are equipped with six legs, although they are rarely

used for walking. Their abdomen is elongated and they have large

heads, short antennae, and sensitive eyes to help dragonflies

find its prey.

As predators, adult dragonflies feed on flying insects, such as

mosquitoes that catch on their wings, either flying around

or sitting motionless. Dragonflies are unique because they are

carnivore, eating other insects in abundance. Not uncommon

hear of a dragonfly filling its mouth with up to a hundred

mosquitoes at once! Known as the “mosquito hawk”, dragonflies

may be our best defense against a world crowded with people

pesky blood-sucking pests. Some believe that as an alternative

to the current method of using hazardous insecticides to control

mosquito population (as San Pedro does), perhaps dragonflies should

be cultivated and released. In various areas of the world, this has

has proven to be an effective method of ensuring the balance of

biodiversity, while keeping mosquito populations in check, and

That is a very good thing.

Dragonflies are among the brightest jewels in the world.

entomological world. And the most successful: his genetic pattern.

It is ancient, as the time-stained footprints of its

giant wings and fossilized bodies hundreds of millions of years

behind. Approximately 400-500 species are known in the United States,

with new species that are described each year. Its color and

The behavior has excited many professional and amateur entomologists,

but unlike butterflies and beetles, dragonflies’ colors rarely retain

well in a collection. The insect so bright in life is reduced in

a museum to a boring caricature of himself. Recent preservation

Acetone protocols have improved sample quality and gone a long way

in maintaining the original color. However, no other technique other than

Photography works completely to capture color, and nothing else.

has managed to preserve the color of the eyes.

Dragonflies are among the oldest living creatures. Fossil

records, clearly recognizable as the ancestors of our present

odonates, date back to Carboniferous times, which means that the

Insects flew more than 300 million years ago, preceding

dinosaurs for more than 100 million years and birds for about 150 million.

It would be tragic if, after surviving such unimaginable numbers

years, it should be our generation that witnesses a serious

decay of these fascinating and beautiful insects.

Odonates thrive in water and, to protect them, it is

necessary to study the exact habitat requirements of each individual

species and then protect, conserve and, where possible, increase

the number of suitable habitats. The habitat requirements of some

The species are narrow and these are obviously the ones that are most in

risk. Other species species are Catholic in their needs and will

survive in almost any type of water, some even tolerate water

that’s brackish. Most fall between these extremes, some

requiring running water, some still and some bogs and swamps.

Sadly, the right sites are disappearing faster than the new ones.

formed and, until that trend is reversed, there is a continuing cause

of concern. Rivers are polluted; ponds are allowed to become

clogged with debris and week; the marshes are drained to meet the

the demand for roads and houses always increases; primeval forests are

disappearing and, with them, the mountain streams containing some

of the most interesting and primitive species in the world.

The important questions are: how can we make sure there are no more odonates?

habitats disappear? and how we can encourage the spread of species

who are not taking such a serious risk? Here are some answers:

You can dig small ponds in our gardens or backyards, the largest in

play areas of our school and even larger in various types of

open space. It won’t be long before the dragonflies and damselflies

begin to colonize them, as many species easily discover new


Farmers and other landowners can be encouraged to preserve their

hedges and groves where adults take refuge in the dull weather, and to

Keep ponds and other waters on your land free of effluents. Lakes

and ponds should not be allowed to fill with reeds or

other aquatic plants, nor should the overhanging branches of trees be

allowed to totally block the sun.

You can join or, if necessary, create a local conservation group

volunteers. The help these groups provide can be tremendously


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