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any insectinsect,
invertebrate animal of the class Insecta of the phylum Arthropoda. Like other arthropods, an insect has a hard outer covering, or exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed legs. Adult insects typically have wings and are the only flying invertebrates.
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 of the order Odonata, which also includes the damselfly. Members of this order are generally large predatory insects and characteristically have chewing mouthparts and four membranous, net-veined wings; they undergo complete metamorphosismetamorphosis
[Gr.,=transformation], in zoology, term used to describe a form of development from egg to adult in which there is a series of distinct stages. Many insects, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, and fishes undergo metamorphosis, which may involve a change in habitat,
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. Species are found throughout the world except in the polar regions; the greatest variety occurs in the tropics.

Dragonflies, which are commonly called horse stingers and devil's darning needles, are strong fliers with elongated bodies; they rest with their wings outstretched. Some are 5 in. (12.7 cm) long. Damselflies are generally smaller, with slender, often brilliantly colored, bodies and rest with their wings folded back. The giant helicopter damselfly of tropical America has a wingspan of 7.5 in. (19 cm).

Both dragonflies and damselflies lay eggs on or near water. The nymphs are aquatic and breathe by means of gills located at the end of the abdomen; the gills can also be used for propulsion through the water. The nymphs feed on insect larvae and are an important food for fish and birds. When grown, they crawl up out of the water and molt. Most species produce a single generation each year, with the nymph stage usually overwintering. Both nymphs and adults prey on mosquitoes and other insects and are harmless, indeed beneficial, to humans.

Fossil remains of a form from the Permian period, with a wingspread of 2 1-2 ft (76 cm), have been found. Modern dragonflies and damselflies are classified in the phylum ArthropodaArthropoda
[Gr.,=jointed feet], largest and most diverse animal phylum. The arthropods include crustaceans, insects, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, and the extinct trilobites.
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, class Insecta, order Odonata.


(invertebrate zoology)
Any of the insects composing six families of the suborder Anisoptera and having four large, membranous wings and compound eyes that provide keen vision.


1. any predatory insect of the suborder Anisoptera, having a large head and eyes, a long slender body, two pairs of iridescent wings that are outspread at rest, and aquatic larvae: order Odonata
2. any other insect of the order Odonata
References in periodicals archive ?
Laboratory studies on the predaceous habits on the dragonfly nymph.
Dragonfly nymphs are insatiable carnivores, devouring all manner of bite-size aquatic life, including their own siblings, as well as tadpoles, salamanders and small fish.
Though not at the top of the food chain, dragonfly nymphs are subject to contamination just like their fellow predators.
While surveying, Ballengee also discovered a range of natural predators he suspected could be to blame, including stickleback fish, newts, diving beetles, water scorpions and predatory dragonfly nymphs.
suggests visiting a variety of habitats, lakes, rivers, marshes, bogs and ponds, where dragonfly nymphs are easiest to observe.
For sixty million years the sturgeon searched for dragonfly nymphs and Larvae of gnats.
This involves wading into the streams and counting living samples like dragonfly nymphs and crayfish.
They agreed the macroinvertebrates such as crayfish, leeches and dragonfly nymphs, and vertebrates such as minnows, frogs and salamanders would be most likely to interest the bass.
WONDERFUL WALK: Youngsters from the school on their sponsored walk in Fencerhill Wood BEAUTY: Broadway East First School pupil Sebastian Ritchie examining dragonfly nymphs on the sponsored walk to raise cash for the school project
Translated, the Athol Bird and Nature Club, the Dragonfly Society of the Americas and the Millers River Environmental Center are sponsoring a weekend of study and talks about dragonfly nymphs.
Dragonfly searches often focus on the cast skins, or exuvia, that aquatic dragonfly nymphs shed to fly in their adult forms.