Interesting dragonflies have been around for millions of years. They are noted for their outstanding flying skills, colorful and iridescent wings, and their functions as predators and environmental indicators. But how long do these lovely animals live? And what affects their lifespan?
In this article, we’ll discuss dragonflies’ life cycles, how long they live in different phases and places, and what they symbolize in different cultures and traditions. It will be easier to comprehend and appreciate these old and intriguing insects after reading this essay.
Dragonfly Life Cycle
The Greek word for “toothed ones” is Odonata, which includes dragonflies. Their serrated teeth catch and consume mosquitoes, flies, and midges. Dragonflies are the fastest insects at 35 mph.
Dragonflies are eggs, nymphs, and adults. Each stage involves challenges time-dependent on species and environment.
Dragonflies start life as eggs. After mating, the female dragonfly deposits her eggs in a pond, lake, marsh, or stream. Her eggs may be laid on aquatic vegetation, mud banks, or in the water. Female dragonflies may deposit hundreds or thousands of eggs, depending on the species.
Depending on temperature and humidity, eggs develop into larvae or nymphs after days or weeks. Eggs may stay latent until April in colder areas.
Dragonflies spend their longest and most important time as nymphs. Nymphs dwell underwater for months or years, depending on the species. They devour tadpoles, fish, worms, snails, and other nymphs. Their lower jaw may stretch forward and seize prey quickly and forcefully.
Gills at the end of their abdomen breathe for nymphs. They can also propel themselves by squirting water from their belly in a jet. Nymphs lose their skin multiple times as they mature and acquire wings. The species moult six to 15 times.
Nymphs climb out of the water onto a plant stem or rock to become adults. They subsequently shed their exoskeleton and showed their wings and bodies. Emergence takes roughly 12 hours.
Dragonflies live their shortest and last stage as adults. Winged adults can fly in all directions with quickness and elegance. Their enormous compound eyes cover much of their head, providing them with extensive vision. Their wings and bodies exhibit vibrant colors and patterns for concealment, communication, and attraction.
Most adults search for food, protect their territory, and find partners. They mate in midair, on plants, or on surfaces. The male dragonfly transfers sperm from his abdomen-tip primary genitalia to his thorax secondary genitalia. He then grabs the female behind her head with his abdominal appendages and creates a mating wheel or heart with her. The female bends her abdomen to absorb his sperm and fertilize her eggs.
Adults survive for weeks or months, depending on species and weather. Natural factors like predation, sickness, or old age kill them. Human actions, including habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, and climate change, may threaten them.
Dragonfly Lifespan by Species
Dragonflies live differently based on species and area. Dragonflies are found on every continent except Antarctica and number over 5,000. Not all dragonflies have the same lifespan or cycle.
Tropical vs. Temperate Regions
Dragonflies’ lifespans depend on their habitat’s climate. Tropical they enjoy shorter lives than temperate dragonflies because the temperature and humidity vary throughout the year.
In tropical climates, they may live for months or weeks. They may have two or three generations every year. The world’s most common dragonfly, the globe skimmer (Pantala flavescens), lives 30–40 days. Its 11,000-mile trek over seas and continents is likewise notable.
Dragonflies in temperate climates live longer but grow slower. They generally remain nymphs for many years before becoming adults. They only have one generation every year. One of the biggest and most common dragonflies in North America, the common green darner (Anax junius), may spend up to three years as a nymph before becoming an adult. The partial migration of winter migrants from colder to warmer locations is also known.
Examples of Some Common Dragonfly Species and Their Lifespans
Here are some common dragonfly species and their estimated lifespans at various life stages:
- Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea): This strong dragonfly is found across Europe and Asia. Bogs with acidic water are its preferred habitat. It may live four years as a nymph and four months as an adult.
- Blue dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis): This North American dragonfly is tiny and thin. Ponds, lakes, marshes, and streams with lush flora are its habitat. It may be a nymph for four months and an adult for two.
- Scarlet skimmer (Crocothemis servilia): This medium-sized, brilliantly colored dragonfly comes from Asia and Australia. Hawaii and Florida have adopted it. Open water with minimal flora is its habitat. It may be a nymph for two months and an adult for one.
- Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens): This European and Asian dragonfly is delicate and graceful. It lives in slow-flowing, gravelly rivers and streams with overhanging trees. It may live two years as a nymph and two months as an adult.
Dragonfly Symbolism and Meaning
They are intriguing biologically, culturally, and spiritually. They have appeared in numerous myths, tales, stories, art, and traditions throughout history. Different individuals have adored, feared, admired, or misunderstood them.
Cultural and Historical Significance of Dragonflies
Dragonflies are linked to many areas of human history, including:
- Buddhism and Hinduism revere dragonflies as symbols of knowledge, enlightenment, reincarnation, and change. They are spirit messengers in Hopi and Navajo cultures. They symbolize resurrection or the soul in various Christian faiths.
- Art: Dragonflies have inspired many artists to produce magnificent works that capture their essence or reflect their feelings. For centuries, Japanese artists have used them in their paintings, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, and more. They are popular for tattoos, sculptures, stained glass windows, and other art.
- Alice confuses a dragonfly with a “rocking horsefly” in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and wonders how it can fly with wooden wings.
- Bilbo Baggins compares Mirkwood dragonflies to “plum-coloured” helicopters in The Hobbit.
- Douglas Spaulding imagines himself as a dragonfly in Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and feels free and happy.
Common Interpretations and Messages of Dragonflies
People interpret dragonflies in many ways, such as:
- Dragonflies symbolise change, adaptability, and metamorphosis. From nymphs to adults, they change dramatically in appearance, behavior, and environment. They gracefully shift direction, speed, and color. They may motivate us to accept and prosper from change.
- Dragonflies represent pleasure, happiness, and lightness. They are joyful, and playful, and adore the sun and water. Rainbows may be made by reflecting sunlight with their wings. Dragonflies celebrate life’s basic joys and encourage enjoyment.
- Bravery: Dragonflies symbolize strength, bravery, and power. They are ferocious predators with precise hunting and fighting skills. Resilient and persistent, they overcome numerous life problems and risks. Dragonflies may inspire us to overcome our anxieties and problems.
- Wisdom: The symbolises insight, intelligence, and wisdom. They can look in all directions and discern colors beyond the human spectrum due to their superb eyesight. Their history and connection to nature and the elements are very strong. They may help us view things differently and learn from our experiences.
Dragonflies as Spirit Animals and Totems
Dragonflies, like other spirit animals or totems, help, protect, and otherwise influence humans. Whether or whether dragonflies make a connection with us depends on factors including our character, goals, and environment. It’s possible that dragonflies are totems or spirit animals.
- If dragonflies are your spirit animal, you may be creative, adventurous, and flexible. You may love traveling, experiencing new things, and expressing yourself. You may also handle change and ambiguity well and optimistically.
- If dragonflies are your totems, you may be brave, strong, and confident. You may have a strong will and clear goals. You may be able to overcome any obstacles with dedication and talent.
- Dragonflies are animal guides for those seeking pleasure, happiness, and lightness. Your life could use more joy, laughter, and pleasure. You may desire to bring harmony, balance, and calm to your surroundings.
Summary and Takeaways
This article explained dragonfly life cycles, how long they live at different phases and areas, and what they symbolize in different cultures. Key things to remember:
- Dragonflies are eggs, nymphs, and adults. Each stage has its own obstacles and time, depending on species and habitat.
- Dragonflies live differently based on species and area. Dragonflies are found on every continent except Antarctica and number over 5,000. Not all dragonflies have the same lifespan or cycle.
- Dragonflies symbolize culture and spirituality. They are linked to religion, art, literature, and more. Different individuals have interpreted them as transformation, joy, bravery, knowledge, etc. They are also spirit animals or totems that guide, protect, and affect us.
I hope you liked this post and learned something new about these fascinating insects. Follow these strategies to attract or observe dragonflies in your area:
- Find a good spot with motionless or slow-moving water.
- Plant natural aquatic or wetland plants for dragonfly refuge and food.
- Avoid insecticides that damage dragonflies or their prey.
- Give dragonflies pebbles or sticks to perch on.
- Respect and be patient while viewing dragonflies.
Any questions or comments regarding this article? Do you have dragonfly tales to share? Post your comments below. We want to hear from you!