Lesser Green Emperor Anax guttatus

Dragonflies - ya gotta love 'em. As I've said before, they are the helicopter gunships of the insect world, with the ability to propel themselves in six directions; upward, downward, forward, back, and side to side. Not to mention the added bonus of being able to hover.

Dragonflies and damselflies belong to the insect order, Odonata, which is Greek for “toothed jaws.” Even as larvae, dragonflies have an enormous hinged labium, a lower lip with pincers that can be extended to catch small aquatic insects, crustaceans and even fish and tadpoles.

This large and handsome Anax was careening around like a fat bloke at a bake sale, but settled enough times for me to snap some pics - leaving me marvelling at the metallic hues he is endowed with. And I'm not alone; for many people, dragonflies are actually a big deal - there are even groups who go Oding (much like people go twitching).

Female dragonflies lay eggs in or near water, often on floating or emergent plants. When laying eggs, some species will submerge themselves completely in order to lay their eggs on a good surface. The eggs then hatch into naiads (Nymphs).

Most of a dragonfly's life is spent in the naiad form, beneath the water's surface, using extendable jaws to catch other invertebrates (often mosquito larvae) or even vertebrates such as tadpoles and fish. They breathe through gills in their rectum, and can rapidly propel themselves by suddenly expelling water through the anus.

Some naiads even hunt on land, an aptitude that could easily have been more common in ancient times when terrestrial predators were clumsier. ^

Anax guttatus

Does this look like eye spot mimicry too you?

The larval stage of large dragonflies may last as long as five years. In smaller species, this stage may last between two months and three years. When the naiad is ready to metamorphose into an adult, it climbs up a reed or other emergent plant.

Exposure to air causes the naiad to begin breathing. The skin splits at a weak spot behind the head and the adult dragonfly crawls out of its larval skin, pumps up its wings, and flies off to feed on whatever it can overpower, inc members of it's own species.

The adult stage of larger species of dragonfly can live as long as five or six months. ^ edited

Large multifaceted or compound eyes. Perfect for spotting prey.

Note the small moth on the right forewing - taking bravery to new heights eh?

In Europe, dragonflies have often been seen as sinister. Some English vernacular names, such as "devil's darning needle" and "ear cutter", link them with evil or injury.

A Romanian folk tale says that the dragonfly was once a horse possessed by the devil. Swedish folklore holds that the devil uses dragonflies to weigh people's souls.

The Norwegian name for dragonflies is Øyenstikker ("eye-poker"), and in Portugal they are sometimes called tira-olhos ("eye-snatcher").

They are often associated with snakes, as in the Welsh name gwas-y-neidr, "adder's servant". The Southern United States term "snake doctor" refers to a folk belief that dragonflies follow snakes around and stitch them back together if they are injured.


  1. What stunning photographs! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

    1. Thanks for the kind words Marci - much appreciated :)

      Take care


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