dragonfly

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dragonfly

dragonfly, any insect 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 metamorphosis. 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 21-2 ft (76 cm), have been found. Modern dragonflies and damselflies are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Odonata.

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dragonfly

[′drag·ən‚flī]
(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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

dragonfly

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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
In fact, looking for dragonflies and damselflies is so popular in the Millers River watershed that a "NymphFest" is held at the Millers River Environmental Center in Athol each year.
In ponds and lakes that do not support fish populations in eastern North America, large dragonflies (e.g., Anax, Aeshna, and Tramea species) are the primary predators of coexisting damselflies (McPeek 1990a, 1998).
Damselflies promote a healthy balance in gardens and garden ponds, as they help reduce the number of other aquatic larvae, such as mosquitoes.
It shows that damselflies have been romancing their partners for at least that long a period in their evolution, according to the study.
Dragonflies and damselflies comprise one of the most distinctive and intriguing groups in the animal kingdom.
NATURE lovers are being asked to monitor the UK's dragonflies and damselflies with the help of a new app.
But this remarkable image is of two real-life damselflies and it has won a top award for a Huddersfield woman.
THE wet winter could have hit populations of dragonflies and damselflies in Wales, the Canal & River Trust has warned as it launches its annual wildlife spotting scheme.
THE wettest winter on record could have hit populations of dragon-flies and damselflies, the Canal & River Trust has warned as it launches its annual wildlife spotting scheme.
Johnson, "Mating and oviposition of damselflies in the laboratory," The Canadian Entomologist, vol.