|Blue dasher dragonfly. Are those aviator sunglasses?|
Dragonfly eyes are amazing. They cover most of the head and provide the dragonfly with a 360 degree view of their world. Dragonflies need excellent vision of their surroundings because they can fly and maneuver so quickly. If they couldn't see in all directions, they'd constantly be smashing into things. Dragonflies fly quickly because they need to catch their prey, which consists of insects that can also fly. Blue dashers specialize in mosquitoes, gnats and flies, but they also eat butterflies and grasshoppers.
|Blue dasher demonstrating its helicopter shape, with a long abdomen to balance the head.|
All dragonflies lay their eggs in water, and we probably have blue dasher nymphs in our pond at school. After being deposited in the water, dragonfly eggs hatch into nymphs (underwater larvae), which grow and eat other aquatic insects and tiny fish until they are big enough to metamorphose into adults. When a dragonfly becomes an adult, it crawls out of the water onto a stem or rock, splits its exoskeleton, and drags itself out of the shed skin as a fully-formed adult. Blue dasher nymphs are particularly tolerant of poor water conditions, which makes them ideal for living in an urban environment. They are widespread around the United States and in southern Canada in all variety of habitats.
|Dragonfly nymph exoskeleton. (Photo: Mary Entrekin Agee)|