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Critter of the Quarter:  Meet the Dragonflies

Photo courtesy of Hank Fabian

Dragonflies are insects with many names: skimmer, darner, fork-tailed, dasher, meadow-hawk, and others. They are a much loved, but also a much-misunderstood group of animals. Among the many myths—untrue details—about dragonflies is that they bite or sting, which they don’t. In fact, these incredibly swift-flying and maneuverable insects feed on other insects. Mosquitos, midges, and many flying and biting insects fear dragonflies since they are their primary food source. These prey items are caught by the legs of the dragonfly (grabbed), while both are flying.

Nearly every pond, creek, marsh, meadow, and lake is a great home for dragonflies; not only because this is also where they find their favored prey—mosquitos and midges—but they need to lay their eggs in water.  Young dragonflies live and grow in water while eating other insects, tadpoles, and occasionally tiny fish. Like butterflies, young dragonflies go through a metamorphosis, changing from an all-green, crawling insect that lives underwater, to one of the multi-colored, high-flying, mosquito-eating gems of the sky.

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