This week on Discover Nature, take a trip to a stream or pond near you, and observe the colorful dance of mating dragonflies across the surface of the water.
Adult dragonflies have long, slender, often colorful abdomens with robust bodies, large compound eyes, and sometimes spotted patterns on horizontally-outstretched wings.
They don’t start out this way, though. In mid-summer, watch courting dragonflies fly low over water – often attached to their mates. In-flight, females deposit eggs along the surface of the water.
Dragonflies spend most of their lives as drab aquatic nymphs – some species live for five years underwater before shedding their skin and becoming winged-adults.
Dragonflies are important predators of mosquitoes, midges and other small insects, and nymphs are an important food source for fish and other aquatic animals.
Nine Missouri dragonflies are Species of Conservation Concern. The “Hine's emerald” dragonfly is Federally Endangered.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.