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 ?
This is a medium-sized damselfly, growing up to 3.6cm or 1.5 inches, which was about the size of our garden visitor.
Fincke, "Population regulation of a tropical damselfly in the larval stage by food limitation, cannibalism, intraguild predation and habitat drying," Oecologia, vol.
Another discovery in the same week in two different sites in Fujairah found a tiny colorful damselfly called Ischnura nursei.
Male and female interactions during courtship of the neotropical damselfly Mnesarete pudica (Odonata: Calopterygidae).
Both damselfly and dragonfly nymphs feed on small aquatic organisms, fish, and tadpoles (Corbet 1999, Colburn 2004), while adults feed on mosquitoes, butterflies, and other winged insects associated with vegetation of aquatic habitats.
Judas visited the dam site in late morning to record and photograph Odonata and had walked 200-300 metres along the north-east bank, when he first observed the new damselfly, with its tri-coloured, red, yellow and black-banded abdomen.
Field-collected plankton samples also contain more diverse prey items that better reflect a damselfly's normal diet.
Those who have never canoed the bucolic six miles between Athol and Orange may not be aware that bald eagles are regularly seen circling over the river; green and blue heron are common residents; hawks, osprey and other raptors use the river to hunt for food, and a host of insects can be found buzzing around, including the American rubyspot damselfly, a beautiful red colored damselfly that is found in parts of the river in large numbers.
Dwy o'r mursennod welais i oedd y fursen dinlas fach (Ischnura pumilio; Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly) a'r fursen fawr goch (Pyrrhosoma nymphula; large red damselfly).
First record of the damselfly genus Anisagrion (Odonata: Coenagrionidae) from Colombia