Well Known Skimmer by Gary Helm From the tiny Eastern Amberwing, to the flamboyant Halloween Pennant, dragonflies are some of the most important and charismatic beneficial bugs. They’re indiscriminate predators of many pest insects, including mosquitoes, flies, ants and wasps.
A dragonfly’s life-cycle revolves around water, so it’s no surprise that Florida is home to more than 150 species of odonates (dragonflies and their relatives, damselflies.) Their eggs are laid in water, where dragonflies spend the majority of their life as nymphs. There, they feed on invertebrates such as mosquito larvae, and sometimes even vertebrates such as tadpoles or small fish.
After months or even years in the water, dragonflies transform into one of the fastest and most agile flying insects. Their four broad wings combine with large, discriminating eyes to create an efficient visual predator. Because they hunt by sight, dragonflies are most active and most often seen on sunny days. They will usually be found around ponds, streams, drainage ditches or other wet or marshy areas, though a few species will wander a little farther afield. Thanks to our warm climate, many species in Florida are in-season year-round.
Regardless of species, all dragonflies are voracious insect predators. Many can be seen patrolling over ponds or parking lots, feasting on midges and mosquitoes. Others perch on branches or reeds, waiting to ambush the next fly to bumble by.
Next time you see one zip across your yard, consider saying thanks to the dragonfly for helping to control the pest population.
This Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) is one of the best known North American skimmers (family Libellulidae). It occurs from southern Canada south through Mexico and Belize, the Bahamas and Cuba.
I found this one in my backyard! (From my archives) http://flic.kr/p/TexZGP