Dragonflies are one of the most amazing insects. Not only are they vibrant and colorful, they also serve distinctive purposes.
You may be surprised to discover that there are many different types of dragonflies.
In fact, there are over a thousand species of dragonfly in the world today!
Whilst insects are rarely ever included in anybody’s list of highly favored animals, dragonflies are often spectated with awe and joy.
Whilst dragonflies may not be as common as mosquitoes or bees, they can often be discovered near water such as streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes.
These winged insects are some of the first to have evolved over 3000 million years previously, Modern day dragonflies have a wingspan of 2-5 inches wide whilst original dragonflies had wingspans of up to 2 feet.
Thus, they have grown and evolved over time to form longer, larger bodies. They are also renowned for their transparent wings and large eyes.
There are thousands of species of dragonfly on earth today, and these species are attributed to the Odonata order which translates as ‘toothed one’ in Greek.
One of the key characteristics of the dragonfly is its ability to fly in a helicopter-fashion.
They are able to hover up and down, whilst only targeting their prey during the night.
It is important to note that not all species of dragonfly are the same. In fact, these creatures can vastly differ depending on their species.
Dragonflies can essentially be divided into three superfamilies that can be further divided also. These superfamilies are as follows:
The first of these families is Petaluridae. Supposedly, this is the oldest family of dragonflies in the world and they came into existence approximately 150 million years ago.
They are otherwise known as petal tail dragonflies due to their elongated, straight tails.
History indicates that this family originated in New Zealand.
They differ from other species of dragonfly as they normally prefer to live within fen habitats, as opposed to living around water.
Petaluridae also includes eleven sub-species and the largest of these is the Australian Petalura Ingentissima which is renowned for its 160mm long wingspan.
This larger form of dragonfly is one of the most common species that can be found in Australia.
Other species that can be found in this continent include the Petalura Gigantea (or Giant Dragonfly).
This family of dragonflies are commonly known as the hawkers. They can be found across North America.
This specific type of dragonfly is believed to be one of the largest on the planet. They usually mate whilst in flight and locale themselves near water.
Their larvae are also far thinner than other species of dragonfly.
The genera within this superfamily as considered to be some of the quickest flyers, some of the genera include the following: Aeshna, Acanthaeschna, Anax, Epiaechna, Caliaeschna.
This family is commonly known as the Clubtail Dragonfly family and belong to the Odonata order of dragonflies.
This is a large family that includes 900 species of dragonfly. The vast majority of these dragonflies can be found across North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.
All the species that are contained within the superfamily have small eyes that are widely partitioned, which is a common trait.
Their eyes are also usually blue, green, and turquoise. Unlike other forms of dragonfly, the bodies of these dragonflies do not appear metallic as they have a toned down resolution in order to avoid being instantly identified.
Unlike the other varieties of dragonfly, this is a far smaller family that consists of merely four genera.
These forms of dragonfly are usually only found in regions within Chile, Argentina, and Australia.
They also boast a medium-large body are are typically brown in color. Their wings are usually transparent or silver in complexion.
Archiperalia, Austropetalia, Hypopetalia, and Phyllopetalia are the four genera found within this superfamily.
This superfamily of dragonflies has three sub-families. One of the main species within this family is the Cordulegastridae.
These dragonflies belong to the Anisoptera suborder and can be found across Eastern and Western parts of North America.
This type of dragonfly is renowned for being sprawlers and burrowers as they typically only allow their head to become visible.
They also prefer to hide in smaller streams or within sand dunes.
The vast majority of these dragonflies can live for up to five years, and they spend much of their time laying eggs during the summer season.
The males are extremely territorial and the females usually lay their eggs by trapping air bubbles throughout their body.
Cordulegastridae also happen to be incredibly opportunistic when it comes to feeding, which means that they are more easily able to catch their prey and keep them within their grasp.
One of the easiest means of distinguishing cordulegastridae from other forms of dragonfly is to recognize their distinctive physical attributes.
These dragonflies have larger brown and black bodies that contain a hint of yellow.
They are also otherwise known as the ‘flying adder’ variety of dragonfly and have four genera: Sonjagaster, Anotogaster, Cordulegaster, and Neallogaster.
To conclude, there are many varieties of dragonfly that can be located throughout the world.
In fact, there are other 5000 species of dragonfly that can be discovered from Australia to North America.
There are also dragonflies located in Asia and Europe. These dragonflies belong to larger superfamilies of dragonfly and this is how they can be categorized more easily.
The attributes and characteristics of dragonflies vary drastically depending on the superfamily of dragonfly that they belong to, alongside the order that they derive from.
Dragonflies are one of the oldest insects on earth and there are many species of dragonfly that have become extinct.
They tend to congregate around areas where there is water, like streams, rivers, and lakes.
This enables them to feed more efficiently and create their habitats accordingly.