Dragonfly – Life Cycle, Symbology and Characteristics

We explain what a dragonfly is, what its life cycle is like, how long it lives and other characteristics. Also, the dragonfly as a symbol.

Dragonflies can camouflage themselves to get close to their prey.

What is a dragonfly?

It is known as a dragonfly, damselfly, lice killer, folelé or alguacil to a certain type of flying insects, belonging to the infraorder of Anisoptera, which make life around lakes, ponds, rivers and marshy regions, and they are easily recognizable by their pair of transparent double wings and their long, tubular body, similar to a helicopter, as well as for its fast flight and striking colors.

Dragonflies are insects that have an amphibian life cycle, that is, they present nymphs of aquatic life, and are in turn food for numerous species of aquatic, amphibian and terrestrial animals. What’s more, they are skilled predators, capable of using the optical illusion as camouflage to resemble an immobile object and thus stalk its prey, which mainly consists of mosquitoes, flies, bees, butterflies and moths.

Dragonfly characteristics

dragonfly characteristics
Dragonflies have around 30,000 ocular facets in each eye.

Dragonflies are characterized by the following:

  • They are arthropods, that is, they have articulated limbs and chitin exoskeleton, and insects turn, so they have two pairs of transparent wings and three pairs of legs. However, unlike other insects, they are unable to fold their wings over their torso, so they always have them fully extended.
  • Their elongated and slim bodies allow them a very fast flight (up to 85 kmph in some species), and the anatomy of their legs allows them to catch their prey, but not walk with them on any surface.
  • Their vision capacity is impressive, since they have around 30,000 ocular facets in each eye, which allows them a 360 ° view around and spot their prey from a distance of 12 meters.
  • They can fly in six directions: up, down, forward, backward, left or right.
  • They are very territorial animals, especially males.
  • Like the rest of the insects, they reproduce sexually and the female lays eggs, from which larvae emerge which, in turn, undergo complete metamorphosis.

How long does a dragonfly live?

dragonfly how long does it live
Depending on the species, the dragonfly can live a few months or several years.

The lifespan of different species of dragonfly can vary enormously. In its entirety, that is, from egg to adult death, can be around six years (in the largest species) or just a few months (in the small ones). However, most of the dragonfly’s life is spent in its nymphatic form.

Dragonfly life cycle

dragonfly life cycle
The dragonfly undergoes a metamorphosis to reach its adult form.

The dragonfly life cycle starts when their parents mate, which happens in the air or on some surface, after a courtship in which the male modifies his way of flying to attract the female. This last then lays its eggs in or very close to water, in aquatic or emergent plants, or in mud or moss on the banks of a body of water.

The eggs then hatch and release nymphs, which are their underwater way of life and they feed mainly on the larvae of other insects, such as mosquitoes, or even tadpoles and tiny fish. Dragonflies spend most of their lives in this form, breathing through gills and swimming rapidly.

Once ready for metamorphosis, the nymph emerges from the water holding onto branches and other exposed surfaces and begins to breathe air, awaiting the complex process of transformations that will turn it into an adult. Once internal metamorphosis is complete, the larval skin opens and the adult dragonfly emerges, ready for an aerial life.

The dragonfly as a symbol

Dragonflies have captured human attention since ancient times. Ancient civilizations observed the transit of their life and the complex metamorphosis that this implies, and they considered them emblems of change, and therefore of time and life.

There were those who saw in her the rebirth of life, and therefore eternity or the immensity of time, and They were also interpreted as a symbol of the maturity of the individual, since its adult form is the most recognizable.

Therefore, wisdom and lucidity were attributed to them, and they were used as a family emblem of different royal dynasties, from Egypt to Japan, and it was carved in precious metals in jewels, scepters, tombs, pendants and other ornaments.