Most of us would refer to a large, slender, colorful insect darting about over the surface of a pond as a dragonfly, but in the past they have also been called darners, devil’s arrows, or devil’s darning needles.

There are roughly 3,000 species of Dragonflies (Abisoptera) worldwide. The insects are predators, both in the nymph and adult stages, and can usually be found in or near freshwater habitats. Dragonflies are fast fliers and good hunters; some species consume prey that is 60% of their own weight.

Adult dragonflies are characterized by large, multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, sometimes with coloured patches, and an elongated body. Damselflies (Zygoptera) are often mistaken for dragonflies, however although the damselfly is similar in structure, they are generally more fragile - thinner and lighter in build.

The globe skimmer, also known as the wandering glider, (Pantala flavescens), a migratory dragonfly, makes an annual multigenerational journey of some 18,000 km (about 11,200 miles). To complete the migration, individual globe skimmers fly more than 6,000 km (3,730 miles), sometimes crossing large bodies of water. Its journey is one of the farthest known migrations of all insect species.

The first known use of the term “devil’s darning needles” was in 1808. It evolved from an old superstition which claimed that the insect had the ability to “sew up” the eyes or mouth of a naughty, sleeping child.

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