Do you love the great outdoors? If you’re like many Wonder Friends, summer is a time to spend enjoying nature by going on hikes or camping. If you spend much time outdoors, you’re likely to run across the subject of today’s Wonder of the Day before long.
Who is it? The dragonfly, of course! When you see a dragonfly up close, it’s easy to see how they got their name. They don’t actually breathe fire, but they do look a bit fierce like the mythical dragon they’re named after.
Dragonflies have been around a really long time. Experts believe dragonflies existed over 300 million years ago. A fossil has been found that reveals that ancient dragonflies may have had a wingspan of over two feet in width! The largest dragonfly alive today lives in Costa Rica and only has a wingspan of a little over seven inches.
One of the most striking features of the dragonfly is its large eyes. Unlike human eyes that have just one lens, dragonfly eyes are made up of up to 30,000 separate lenses! Its eyes enable a dragonfly to see all around it. Unfortunately, despite their many lenses, dragonfly eyes don’t allow them to see details very well.
Dragonflies are some of the fastest, best fliers in the insect world. They can fly in loops, hover and even fly backward. A dragonfly in Australia was measured flying at a speed of 36 miles per hour.
Dragonflies put their speed to good use. They are predators that eat other insects, including mosquitoes, gnats, flies, bees, ants and wasps.
When dragonflies are first hatched, they are called nymphs and they live in the water for up to a year. This is why you will often find dragonflies around water, such as marshes, lakes, ponds and wetlands. Once they leave the water and begin to fly, though, they only live for about a month.
Dragonflies can be found all over the world. In fact, there are over 5,000 different types of dragonflies around the world.
Dragonflies have been viewed differently by various cultures over the years. In Europe, for example, dragonflies have often been viewed as evil or sinister. In Japan, though, they are seen as symbols of courage, strength and happiness. The Japanese often feature dragonflies in art and literature, particularly haiku.