Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dragonflies and Damselflies

Order "Odonata"
(Adapted from an article I wrote for our lake association newsletter.)

We have a great variety of dragonflies here in northern Minnesota.  Technically we have insects of the order Odonata including both dragonflies and damselflies.  In the accompanying photo are three dragonflies and one damselfly (the damselfly is the blue one) but I'll just be referring to them all as dragonflies.  As you have no doubt observed, adult dragonflies come in various sizes and can be very colorful.  They are found in different shades of blue, green, red or yellow and each one is a wonder to watch as they have the ability to hover or zoom around, both forward and backwards, in pursuit of mosquitoes and other insects that they feed on.  In Minnesota we have around 140 species of dragonflies.

As the seasons changed this year from our very hot, dry summer to cold November-like temperatures in early October, I wondered what became of dragonflies in the winter.  It turns out that they winter very well underwater as larvae and as late season eggs, too, as the eggs simply stop developing until the winter season has passed.  Some larvae are even able to survive a mild freezing in ice.  The adult dragonflies live only 4 to 6 months, but some of them do migrate south.

If you want to learn more about dragonflies, here are a couple of links to get you started:


April Henry said...

Totally odd question, but would it possible to see damselflies in November when there is some icing over of puddles? This is a question for a book.

Lakeseasons said...

No. Here in northern Minnesota we see a lot of dragonflies and damselflies in June and July, but in August their numbers dwindle considerably and I think September is about the latest we see any. I am not an expert, only a casual observer, but it seems that by then those that haven't died must migrate.