Dragonflies are 20 mm - 150 mm in length.
They have two pairs of membranous wings, clear and similar in
length. Both pairs have numerous cross-veins forming many
cells. At rest they hold all four wings outstretched.
The body is widest at the wing attachment with a slim abdomen
that appears soft and fragile with two short tails (cerci).
The tails are sometimes used as claspers in males which are
used to hold onto the females during mating.
Antennae are short and hair-like.
Eyes are large and bulging, nearly touching in the middle.
Mouthparts are designed for chewing or munching.
They have six legs, short with strong bristles with the fore and
midlegs held out from the body and bent at the elbows.
Males are often found near water perched on vegetation, rocks
or in the air.
Females may be found away from the water.
Dragonflies are solitary, though it is not uncommon to see large
numbers perched on structures like fences.
They are extremely strong fliers, capable of high speeds and
flight in all directions, can hover, move in zigzags, and even fly
Males tend to be territorial.
They are all predators that prey primarily on flying insects,
taken from the air or as they land on vegetation.
They are mostly active during the day, though some are
primarily active around twilight and few are active at night.
One species that lived around 250 million years ago was the
largest insect known to exist and had a wingspan of over 70
Their success as a group is largely because of their fantastic
flying abilities and their well-developed eyes.
They are excellent hunters of other flying insects.
Many people find them intimidating but, despite their powerful
jaws, they are harmless. In fact, they do us a favour by eating
many insects that bite us.
Eggs are laid into, or close to, water. The larvae are usually
aquatic, feeding on other insects, tadpoles and occasionally
After progressing through up to twelve larval stages the larvae
crawl out of the water. Their skin splits and the adults emerge.
The adult stage has a pre-reproductive period that may last up
to three weeks. At this stage the colour of the wings and body
There are over 6,000 species worldwide, 320 species known
from Australia and about 100 of these occur around Sydney.
The Asiatic Blood Tail, Lathrecista asiatica, is a species of
dragonfly occurring in a widespread area from India to
The Incredible Dragonfly