Sunday, August 11, 2019

Summer Dragonfly Activity By Joyce D’Agostino


Photo by Joyce D'Agostino

You may have noticed them – large flying insects that look like miniature airplanes traveling back and forth through the air. Their size and shape may make some think that they could be an insect that could be harmful to people but in fact Dragonflies are very active and important insect predators and are not found to be harmful to humans. They prefer to spend a lot of their time catching flying insects including ones that are annoyances to humans such as houseflies and mosquitos. 

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino

Dragonflies and their relative damselflies belong to the order Odonata. Both are active around water and aquatic settings, but they also will scan yards and gardens to find an abundance of their preferred insect prey. 
There have been about 40 species of Dragonflies documented from the foothills to the plains in Colorado. Each has their own unique wing shape, colors and markings. While they move about quickly, you may be able to observe some as they come to rest to help you make note of their markings in order to identify the ones that are visiting your garden. 
The presence of Dragonflies goes back to ancient times and there are fossil records of the relatives of our modern dragonflies. These early dragonflies were much larger, some with wingspans as large as 30 inches.  Their fossils have been found in such widespread areas of the world as the United States, Russia and Australia.  Today there are about 3,000 species of dragonflies found throughout the world showing they still have a strong ability to adapt to many areas. 
Dragonflies and damselflies may become endangered around the world if there is continued loss of their preferred aquatic habitat and if there is widespread use of insecticides that can not only harm them but eliminate their primary insect food sources. Some cultures also capture and use the dragonflies for cultural medicine as well as some areas that use dragonflies for food. If they are overharvested, it could possibly result in diminished populations in those areas. 
By providing areas in your own landscape or neighborhood for these beneficial insects it will help ensure that they have a safe and supportive environment and allow them to maintain a balanced population. 
While these large insects may look menacing, they actually are not harmful to humans and they provide a very important niche in our ecosystem.  Their role in nature is to capture and eliminate insects that otherwise may be a nuisance to humans and to also eliminate those insects that are harmful to their farms, landscape and garden plants. 
To learn more about Dragonflies, view the links listed below: