Dragonfly (infraorder Anisoptera)
Dragonflies are insects belonging to the order Odonata, suborder Epiprocta, infraorder Anisoptera. They are characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings and an elongated body. Dragonflies are similar to damselflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest.
Dragonflies typically eat mosquitoes and other small insects like flies, bees and butterflies. They are therefore valued as predators, since they help control populations of insects. Dragonflies are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as "nymphs", are aquatic. Adult dragonflies do not bite or sting humans, though nymphs are capable of delivering a painful (though otherwise harmless) bite.
Most of a dragonfly's life is spent in the nymph form, beneath the water's surface, using internal gills to breathe, and using extendable jaws to catch other invertebrates or even vertebrates such as tadpoles, fish, etc. Some nymphs even hunt on land. The larval stage of large dragonflies may last as long as five years.
In the United States dragonflies and damselflies are sought out as a hobby similar to birding and butterflying, known as oding, from the dragonfly's Latin species name, Odonata. Oding is especially popular in Texas, where 225 out of a total of 457 known species of odonates in the world have been observed.
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Featured by the lovely Helena
in her journal: "A Favourites Special of Fine Artists" [link]