Insects
About the Dragonfly
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Order Odonata, Suborder Anisoptera, Family Aeshnidae

Dragonflies are the largest insects in British Columbia. Other names for dragonflies are skimmers, darners and gomphus. Most BC dragonflies are darners, from the family Aeshnidae. Skimmers and gomphus are names for other varieties of dragonfly.

Dragonfly What does the dragonfly look like?

Dragonflies are hard to miss - ranging in size from two or three centimeters all the way up to ten centimeters long, they look like small airplanes, with four very large transparent wings and a long, tubular body. They are often colorful. They make a surprisingly loud and deep buzzing sound when flying.

Don't mistake dragonflies for their cousins, the damselflies, which are mostly smaller. Unlike the damselfly, dragonflies cannot fold their wings over their backs.

Dragonfly nymphs are shaped like a small cigar with bulging eyes. They have unusually pronounced legs for an aquatic insect. The nymph gets up to three or four centimeters long before hatching into an adult.

The two most important dragonfly families for fly fishing are
the darner family and the gomphus (or clubtail) family because these two families are very important food for fish.

The darner nymph is often found in ponds and swamps.
The gomphus nymphs are usually found in streams, and at the shores of large lakes.

Where does the dragonfly live?

Dragonfly nymphs usually live in very clean, well-oxygenated water. Being very predacious, dragonfly nymphs stick to shore or around shoal drop-offs for good hunting. Dragonflies are found all over the world - there are at least 39 species of darners and 98 species of gomphus dragonflies in North America alone.

Dragonfly adults fly widely around most of British Columbia's lakes.

What is the life cycle of the dragonfly?

Dragonflies mate in flight, and are often seen flying in tandem. Click here to see the life cycle of a dragonfly. After mating, the female lays her eggs in vegetation, over open water, and sometimes into the lake bottom. Dragonflies have no pupal or larval stages. They hatch from their eggs as nymphs which are just a small version of mature nymphs. They molt several times, getting larger each time and then finally crawl onto shore, where they hatch into adults.

Nymphs migrate to deeper water in the winter, returning to shallow water in the spring.

Did You Know… The dragonfly life cycle may be complete in a year or two, but can take as long as four years, making dragonflies one of the longest-living species of insect, as well as the largest.


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