General description of a praying mantis, Keeping Insects

Keeping Insects


Caring for a praying mantis, butterflies, stick insects and beetles

General mantis info

This pages will give you some general information about praying mantises, like their morphology, their camouflage, their senses, their way of life and their natural habitat.

Morphology of a mantis

The morphology, or body plan, of a praying mantis is similar to that of many insects. It has six legs, two wings and two antennae. However, they have some special features which makes them unique among insects. First they are able to turn their head around like humans can. All other insects cannot turn their heads, their neck is too rigid to allow it. Furthermore praying mantids have modified front legs; these front legs are especially designed to catch prey and hold them tightly. These arms are very strong and equipped with pointy spikes to keep a firm hold on the prey.
Most adult praying mantids have wings (some species do not). Females usually cannot fly with their wings, but males can.

Here you can see the body plan of a mantis clearly. This is an adult female of Sphodromantis baccettii.

Camouflage and colors

Some mantis species depend on good camouflage to prevent predators from eating them, while others keep a more simple look. Well camouflaged mantids have many projections on their body in the shape of dead leaves, branches, flower pentals or even moss. Their colors can vary from brown, to green, white, pink, yellow or a mix of all colors. The more straightforwards looks are simply green, brown or sandy colored but without any special modifications.

This orchid mantis has extraordinary camouflage

This Ghost mantis has strange shapes on its head and body to mimic dead leaves

The senses of a mantis

Praying mantids have as many senses as we do; sight, smell, taste, feeling and hearing. However, they mostly depend on sight. Their sense of sight is amazing compared to the abilities of other insects. They are one of the only kind of insect that has stereo-vision; it can look with two eyes at the same spot making it possible to judge distances very accurately. Their other senses are weak compared to ours; their sense of smell is mostly limited to smelling specific pheromones that members of their own species emit. Their sense of hearing is weak, but very special in the insect world. Almost all insects cannot hear as we do, they can only sense vibrations. But praying mantids actually have one ear, in the middle of their abdomen, that can sense the high-pitched tones of a bat! This ear is especially developed to pick up the echolocation calls of bats, the ear cannot hear other tones. Because of this ear, a flying mantis can hear it when a bat is chasing him in the air. When a flying mantis hears the call of the bat at a close distance, it will suddenly make a turn and let itself drop to the ground. This saves the life of the mantis, as bats are a very common predator of flying insects.

The eyes of a mantis are very big and directed forward, to ensure good stereo-vision.

Development and growth

Praying mantids are part of the hemimetabola group of insects; this means they do not undergo a complete metamorphosis. A complete metamorphosis is that of a butterfly or beetle; first you have a caterpillar or larvae, then a pupa (cocoon) and then the adult insect. This adult looks nothing like the first stage of the life cycle. In mantids and other hemimetabola, the newly born insects already resemble the adults. In praying mantids, the newborn nymphs are almost the same as the parents except their size, color and their wings. These mantis nymphs shed their skin around 6 – 9 times before reaching adulthood. The number of molts depends on the species and the sex of the mantis. Every time the mantis sheds its skin, it will grow. Because of its rigid outer skeleton (skin) the mantis cannot grow in between molts.
Every nymph stage is indicated with a number; newborn nymphs are called L1. After they shed their skin for the first time, they are called L2. This goes on until the mantis is almost adult. When it has only one molt to go before reaching adulthood it is often called subadult, although you could still indicate its life stage by its L-number.
Praying mantis eggs are deposited in the form of an ootheca; this is a cluster of eggs enclosed by foam. This foam will quickly harder after the female has produced the ootheca, thereby protecting the eggs inside from cold, predators and from desiccation.

This is an ootheca that has been deposited on glass. The small rounds are eggs seen through the glass.

This is the skin a mantis leaves behind every time it molts.

Video of mantis nymphs hatching:

Natural habitat and natural behavior

Praying mantids occur on all continents except Antarctica, therefore their natural habitat is very diverse. There are praying mantis species that occur in trees, bushes, grassland and even rocky or sandy desert environments. They can occur in wet ecosystems or in very dry systems. Their way of life strongly depends on its habitat and the species, but generally a praying mantis is a sit-and-wait predator. This means it will stay in one place and scan the environment for potential prey. When it spots its prey, some species will actively walk towards it to catch it. Other species will continue to wait until the prey is close enough to be caught.
When praying mantises become adult, the female will generally remain at her position while the male will search for her. The male is able to fly, while most female praying mantids are not. The female will emit a pheromone when she is ready to mate. The male can smell this pheromone of his own species from miles away and will fly towards her.

Life Cycle and Biology

There are three stages in the life-cycle of all dragonflies: egg, larva (also known as a nymph) and adult.

Credit: Britain’s Dragonflies (2014) by Dave Smallshire & Andy Swash

Female dragonflies can lay hundreds of eggs during their adult lives, in batches over a few days or even weeks.

Endophytic eggs are elongated in shape and are laid into plant material. All damselflies and hawker dragonflies have scythe-like ovipositors and inject their eggs into plant stems or leaves, rotten wood or mud on or close to the surface of the water. Emerald damselflies and Migrant Hawkers inject their eggs into rush stems well above the water surface, while other hawkers lay into rotten wood or other debris just above the waterline (see Brown Hawkers, right). The Golden-ringed Dragonfly lays its eggs by hovering vertically and stabbing its abdomen into stream-beds.

Exophytic eggs are round in shape, laid in a jelly-like substance and are deposited loosely into water. Species that lay this type of egg include some emerald dragonflies as well as chasers, skimmers and darters. They do this by repeatedly dipping the tips of their abdomens into water, each time releasing one or more eggs that settle below the surface.

During egg-laying, male damselflies, chasers, skimmers and darters guard the females with which they have just mated, either by staying linked ‘in tandem’ or by flying in close attendance. Some female damselflies submerge completely to lay their eggs, often using their still-attached partner to pull them up again afterwards.

Eggs hatch either within 2–5 weeks or, in the case of the emerald damselflies and some hawkers and darters, the following spring.


A tiny tadpole-like prolarva emerges from the egg. If the egg is laid above water, the prolarva wriggles to safety as soon as it hatches and moults within a few hours. Prolarvae that hatch below water moult almost immediately.

Dragonflies spend most of their lives in their larval stage. During its time the dragonfly catches and eats live prey at every opportunity, moulting a further 5–14 times until it is fully-grown. Larval development typically takes one or two years, but ranges from 2–3 months (emerald damselflies) to more than five years (Golden-ringed Dragonfly). Development takes longer in cooler waters where food is scarcer, whilst in warm waters there may be a new generation every year.

Damselfly larvae can be separated from Dragonfly larvae by their caudal lamellae, which are fin-like structures at the end of their abdomen that act as external gills.

All dragonfly larvae have six legs (as do adults), wing-sheaths, an extendable hinged jaw (labium) that can shoot out in an instant and catch prey. Prey includes insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, snails, leeches, tadpoles and small fish. Dragonfly larvae themselves can fall victim to predators, including other dragonfly larvae, fish and waterfowl.

The larvae of some species are covered in hairs that collect silt or organic debris from the soft sediment within which they live. Others are coloured green and/or brown, which helps to provide camouflage amongst the submerged plants and algae they inhabit. Species living in bottom sediments have relatively poor eyesight, but instead use their hairs, long legs and antennae to sense prey. By contrast, hawkers have large eyes and hunt by sight amongst plants nearer the surface.


Dragonflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis; unlike other winged insects, such as butterflies, dragonflies do not have a pupal stage and transition straight from a larva to an adult. This transition, the final larval moult, takes place out of water. This metamorphosis is triggered by day length and temperature, and is synchronised in some species, such as Emperor Dragonfly.

The final-stage larvae sit in shallow water, near the margins, for several days, getting ready for their final moult and starting to breathe air. Most species leave the water during the morning, but hawkers do so under cover of darkness. Larvae climb up emergent vegetation, although some may walk several metres over dry land before finding somewhere suitable to emerge. After finding a secure support, they redistribute their body fluids, pushing the thorax, head, legs and wings out of the larval skin. There is then a pause of about 30 minutes to allow their legs to harden enough for the next stage, when the abdomen is withdrawn. The wings, and then the abdomen, are expanded and start to harden. This process leaves behind a cast skin, called an exuvia, and the whole process lasts between one hour (Damselflies) to three hours (Dragonflies).

The dragonfly’s first flight (maiden flight) is weak and typically covers only a few metres. At such times, dragonflies are especially vulnerable to predation by birds, such as the Hobby. Other hazards include rainfall, which can damage soft tissue during emergence.

10 Fascinating Facts About Grasshoppers

Find Out More About These Amazing Insects That Predate Dinosaurs

Jim Simmen / Getty Images

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Famed fable writer Aesop portrayed the grasshopper as a ne’er do well who fiddled away his summer days without a thought to the future but in the real world, the destruction wreaked by grasshoppers on farming and ranching is far from a harmless parable. Although grasshoppers are extremely common, there’s more to these summertime critters than meets the eye. Here’s a list of 10 fascinating grasshopper-related facts.

1. Grasshoppers and Locusts Are One and the Same

When we think of grasshoppers, most people recall pleasant childhood memories of trying to catch the jumping insects in meadows or backyards. Say the word locusts, however, and it brings to mind images of historic plagues raining down destruction on crops and devouring every plant in sight.

Truth be told, grasshoppers and locusts are members of the same insect order. While certain species are commonly referred to grasshoppers and others as locusts, both creatures are short-horned members of the order Orthoptera. Jumping herbivores with shorter antennae are grouped into the suborder Caelifera, while their longer-horned brethren (crickets and katydids) belong to the suborder Ensifera.

2. Grasshoppers Have Ears on Their Bellies

The grasshopper’s auditory organs are found not on the head, but rather, on the abdomen. A pair of membranes that vibrate in response to sound waves are located one on either side of the first abdominal segment, tucked under the wings. This simple eardrum, called a tympanal organ, allows the grasshopper to hear the songs of its fellow grasshoppers.

3. Although Grasshoppers Can Hear, They Can’t Distinguish Pitch Very Well

As with most insects, the grasshopper’s auditory organs are simple structures. They can detect differences in intensity and rhythm, but not pitch. The male grasshopper’s song isn’t particularly melodic which is a good thing since females don’t care whether or not a fellow can carry a tune. Each species of grasshopper produces a characteristic rhythm that distinguishes its song from others and enables courting males and females of a given species to find one another.

4. Grasshoppers Make Music by Stridulating or Crepitating

If you’re not familiar with those terms, don’t worry. It’s not all that complicated. Most grasshoppers stridulate, which simply means that they rub their hind legs against their forewings to produce their trademark tunes. Special pegs on the inside of the hind leg act like a percussion instrument of sorts when they come in contact with the thickened edge of the wing. The band-winged grasshoppers crepitate or loudly snap their wings as they fly.

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5. Grasshoppers Catapult Themselves Into the Air

If you’ve ever tried to catch a grasshopper, you know how far they can jump to flee danger. If humans could jump the way grasshoppers do, we would be able to easily leap the length of a football field. How do these insects jump so far? It’s all in those big, back legs. A grasshopper’s hind legs function like miniature catapults. In preparation for a jump, the grasshopper contracts its large flexor muscles slowly, bending its hind legs at the knee joint. A special piece of cuticle within the knee acts as a spring, storing up all the potential energy. The grasshopper then relaxes its leg muscles, allowing the spring to release its energy and fling the insect into the air.

6. Grasshoppers Can Fly

Because grasshoppers have such powerful jumping legs, people sometimes don’t realize that they also have wings. Grasshoppers use their jumping ability to give them a boost into the air but most are pretty strong fliers and make good use of their wings to escape predators.

7. Grasshoppers Can Devastate Food Crops

One lone grasshopper can’t do too much harm, although it eats about half its body weight in plants each day—but when locusts swarm, their combined feeding habits can completely defoliate a landscape, leaving farmers without crops and people without food. In 2006, researchers reported an earlier study estimating that damage to forage crops amounting to $1.5 billion was caused annually by grasshoppers.   In 1954, a swarm of Desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) consumed over 75 square miles of wild and cultivated plants in Kenya.  

8. Grasshoppers Are an Important Source of Protein

People have been consuming locusts and grasshoppers for centuries. According to the Bible, John the Baptist ate locusts and honey in the wilderness. Locusts and grasshoppers are a regular dietary component in local diets in many areas of Africa, Asia, and the Americas—and since they’re packed with protein, they’re an important nutritional staple as well.

9. Grasshoppers Existed Long Before Dinosaurs

Modern-day grasshoppers descend from ancient ancestors that lived long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The fossil record shows that primitive grasshoppers first appeared during the Carboniferous period, more than 300 million years ago. Most ancient grasshoppers are preserved as fossils, although grasshopper nymphs (the second stage in the grasshopper lifestyle after the initial egg phase) are occasionally found in amber.

10. Grasshoppers May «Spit» Liquid to Defend Themselves

If you’ve ever handled grasshoppers, you’ve probably had a few of them spit brown liquid on you in protest. Scientists believe this behavior is a means of self-defense, and the liquid helps the insects repel predators. Some people say grasshoppers spit «tobacco juice,» probably because historically, grasshoppers have been associated with tobacco crops. Rest assured, however, the grasshoppers aren’t using you as a spittoon.

The 4 Stages of the Ladybug Life Cycle

Several steps are involved before adults appear

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Ladybugs are known by several other names: lady beetles, ladybug beetles, and ladybird beetles. Regardless of what you call them, these beetles belong to the family Coccinellidae. All ladybugs progress through a four-stage life cycle known as complete metamorphosis.

Embryonic Stage (Eggs)

The ladybug life cycle begins with an egg. Once she has mated, the female ladybug lays a cluster of five to 30 eggs.   She usually deposits her eggs on a plant with suitable prey for her offspring to eat when they hatch; aphids are a favorite food. In a three-month period that commences in spring or early summer, a single female ladybug can produce more than 1,000 eggs.  

Scientists believe ladybugs lay both fertile and infertile eggs in the cluster. When aphids are in limited supply, the newly hatched larvae will feed on the infertile eggs.

Larval Stage (Larvae)

In two to 10 days, ladybug larvae emerge from their eggs.   Species and environmental variables such as temperature can shorten or lengthen this timeframe. Ladybug larvae look somewhat like tiny alligators, with elongated bodies and bumpy exoskeletons. In many species, the ladybug larvae are black with brightly colored spots or bands.

In the larval stage, ladybugs feed voraciously. In the two weeks it takes to become fully grown, a single larva can consume 350 to 400 aphids.   Larvae feed on other soft-bodied plant pests as well, including scale insects, adelgids, mites, and insect eggs. Ladybug larvae don’t discriminate when feeding and will sometimes eat ladybug eggs, too.

The newly hatched larva is in its first instar, a developmental stage that occurs between molts. It feeds until it grows too big for its cuticle, or soft shell, and then it molts. After molting, the larva is in the second instar. Ladybug larvae usually molt through four instars, or larval stages, before preparing to pupate. The larva attaches itself to a leaf or other surface when it is ready to pupate, or metamorphose, into its adult form.

Pupal Stage (Pupae)

In its pupal stage, the ladybug is usually yellow or orange with black markings. The pupa remains still, attached to a leaf, throughout this stage. The ladybug’s body undergoes a remarkable transformation, directed by special cells called histoblasts. They control a biochemical process through which the larval body is broken down and reformed into the adult ladybug.

The pupal stage lasts between seven and 15 days.  

Imaginal Stage (Adult Beetles)

Newly emerged adults, or imagos, have soft exoskeletons, making them vulnerable to predators until their cuticles harden. They appear pale and yellow when they emerge but soon develop the deep, bright colors for which ladybugs are known.

Adult ladybugs feed on soft-bodied insects, just as their larvae do. Adults overwinter, usually hibernating in aggregations. They mate soon after becoming active again in the spring.

Finding Eggs and Larvae

A garden plant prone to aphid infestations is a prime ladybug habitat. To familiarize yourself with the ladybug life cycle, visit this plant daily. Take your time examining the leaves, lifting them to observe the undersides, and you’ll likely find a cluster of bright yellow eggs.

Within a few days, tiny ladybug larvae will hatch, and you’ll find the odd-looking immature ladybugs on the prowl for aphids. Later, you’ll see dome-shaped pupae, shiny and orange. If aphids are abundant, adult ladybugs will hang around, too.

Newts Life Cycle

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If you don’t think something can be slimy and cute at the same time, then you’ve never met a newt. They account for around 70 of the roughly 350 known salamander species. While the dozens of known newt species have similar life cycles, some notable variations exist.

Newt eggs are encased in a gel-like substance rather than a hard shell. Adult females release eggs one at a time and store them in clusters ranging from a handful to several dozen in size. Adults often take an active role in defending their eggs after depositing them. Mothers may curl their body around the eggs to provide protection. Some newt species even wrap leaves around each egg individually to camouflage them, according to San Diego Zoo. Newt eggs are small: some measure only a millimeter or two in diameter. Mom usually anchors her eggs to underwater plants and other structures to keep them safe.


Newts that hatch from submerged eggs usually emerge as aquatic larvae with fishlike tails and gills that allow them to breathe beneath the water’s surface. Not all newt species have an aquatic or «tadpole» phase. This stage tends to be short, except in fully aquatic species. Eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) larvae spend only a few months as tadpoles, but they remain in the terrestrial larval stage for years before fully maturing, according to Island Creek Elementary School. Some newts spend their entire juvenile life as tadpoles and never go through a terrestrial stage.

Many newts progress to a terrestrial larval stage following their brief time as a tadpole. They are called «efts» at this point in their life cycle. Even newts that are aquatic as eggs and adults may spend several years on land as an eft between the two stages. The land-bound juveniles are still amphibious, so they require environments with shade and moisture. They tend to hide under stones, logs, fallen leaves and other forms of natural shelter in environments with damp soil, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.


Adult newts are versatile. Most have both legs and wide tails, so they can walk on land or swim in the water. However, individual species show a propensity for either terrestrial or aquatic environments and spend most of their time in one of them. The smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) spends most of its adult life on land, but courtship and mating occur exclusively in aquatic environments during the appropriate season, according to the Online Field Guide. The reverse is true for other newt species, including the Eastern newt.

Dragonfly insect

Dragonflies — (Odonata), a detachment of insects. Known with carbon. For modern S. 1.4 120 mm, wings up to 90 mm. Eyes facet, occupy most of the moving head. Antennae short, barely noticeable. Wings with a dense network of veins. For S., unlike other insects . . Biological Encyclopedic Dictionary

Dragonflies — a detachment of insects. Body length 1.4 12 cm, wings 1 9 cm. Wings are membranous. OK. 4500 species, widely distributed. Exterminate harmful insects. Aquatic larvae, feed on aquatic insect larvae, sometimes attack tadpoles and fish fry . Big Encyclopedic Dictionary

Dragonflies — (Odonata), a squad of primitive winged insects that are ubiquitous. Dragonfly larvae hatch in water and are called nymphs. One of the types of beauty (suborder of wings) has a thin body with wings that are at rest . . Scientific and technical encyclopedic dictionary

Dragonflies — (Odonata s. Libellul> Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedia

Dragonflies — The request «Dragonfly» is redirected here, see also other values. Dragonflies . Wikipedia

Dragonflies — (Odonata) are very attractive in appearance: their whole body is slim, light, and thin transparent wings seem to be like lace, which is why the French called them damsels. This is a voracious and predatory animal. It is noticed that atmospheric electricity leads them . Insect Life

dragonflies — a detachment of insects. Body length 1.4 12 cm, wings 1 9 cm. Wings are membranous. About 4,500 species are widespread. Exterminate harmful insects. Aquatic larvae, feed on aquatic insect larvae, sometimes attack tadpoles and fish fry. * … Encyclopedic Dictionary

Dragonflies — a detachment of insects. Body length 1.4 12 cm, wings 1 9 cm. Wings are membranous. OK. 4500 species, widely distributed. Exterminate harmful insects. Aquatic larvae, feed on aquatic insect larvae, sometimes attack tadpoles and fish fry. . . Natural science. encyclopedic Dictionary

Dragonflies — (Odonata s. Libellul> Encyclopedic Dictionary of F.A. Brockhaus and I.A. Efron

Dragonfly Squad (Odonata) — Who does not know dragonflies, who did not admire their flight, sometimes swift, sometimes almost soaring? Whose eyes did not attract the brilliance of the wings sometimes overflowing with all the colors of the rainbow, the bright coloring of their bodies? Each nation has its own name for . . Biological Encyclopedia

Origin of view and description

Odonáta or dragonflies — predatory insects belonging to the type of arthropods, a subclass of winged insects and a group of dragonflies. For the first time this unit was described by the Factory in 1793. Dragonflies are a very large detachment, which includes 6650 species. 608 species are currently considered extinct species, and 5899 species of these insects inhabit our planet in modern times.

Dragonfly squad is divided into 3 suborders:

Dragonflies are a very ancient group of insects. The first dragonflies inhabited the earth as far back as the Carboniferous period of the Paleozoic era. These insects are descended from gigantic dragonfly mega-neurons. Meganeuvers were large insects, whose wingspan was up to 66 cm. These insects were considered the largest insects of ancient times. Later, meganeuvres gave birth to the following groups of their descendants: Kennedyina and Ditaxineurina, these groups of insects lived in the Triassic period of the Mesozoic era. They were large, the wings of these insects were about 9 cm long. During dormancy, they folded under the abdomen of the insect.

Description and Features

Dragonflies — These are the oldest and most interesting creatures, whose distant ancestors, very similar to modern specimens in structure and appearance, lived on the planet more than three hundred million years ago, that is, during the Carboniferous period.

Since then, their descendants have undergone a few progressive changes, and therefore modern scientists are ranked among the primitive. But, despite this, these living beings can rightfully be called unique.

This is manifested in everything: in the structure, in the way of feeding and hunting, in the features of life, in the tirelessness and speed of these creatures, as well as in their hidden capabilities, which they still do not cease to amaze the researchers of the animal world of our grand planet.

Dragonflyinsect, related to the type of amphibionts, that is, living organisms that have successfully adapted to life in two environments: on land and in water, and therefore they do not occur in countries with an arid climate.

A lot of varieties of dragonflies (and there are more than six thousand of them) live in the tropical regions of Asia and South America, where they are especially common in moist forests.

In addition, they live on such continents as Australia and Africa, are found in Turkey, Iran, Italy and other climatic countries of the continent of Eurasia.

About a hundred varieties of these organisms have taken root well and exist in Russian open spaces. In fact, they adapted to life on all continents except Antarctica. They are also not found in Greenland and Iceland. You can admire this creature and be convinced of its unique perfection. in the photo dragonflies.

The characteristic features of their appearance include:

  • a relatively large head, movably fastened to the chest,
  • a chest built of three components (front, intermediate, back),
  • thin long streamlined body divided into 11 segments,
  • chitin transparent wings (two pairs),
  • bright shiny elongated abdomen,
  • hard hairy legs (six pieces).

The color of these insects can be the most colorful and original: stand out in blue, green, blue, yellow shades, shine with mother-of-pearl, have blackouts and spots. In nature, you can meet white dragonfly (transparent).

The structure of the organs of vision of this insect is remarkable. First of all, these include huge sizes, occupying three quarters of the head, faceted eyes. They are built of thirty thousand elements (facets), each of which can be considered as a separate organ, functioning independently of the others.

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The facets are arranged in rows, some of which distinguish between the volume and shape of objects, and the other part perceives color waves of a very different spectrum, including ultraviolet.

The crown of these creatures is equipped with three more simple additional eyes located in a triangle. All organs of vision together allow the dragonfly to view the surrounding space around the circle at 360 ° and distinguish the objects it needs from a distance of eight meters or more.

But for all this, the other senses in dragonflies are not sufficiently developed. Their sense of smell is limited. Hearing is completely absent, only the antennae antenna located at the base of the wings pick up some sound vibrations.

These living organisms come together in a whole detachment of insects. Dragonflies also in turn are divided into suborders. Among them, the first should be mentioned isoptera. Distinctive features of the representatives of this suborder are: small size, lightweight elegant physique, elongated abdomen: the wings of both pairs are the same in size, folding behind out of flight. Of the most interesting species, the following can be represented:

1. The arrow is graceful. This variety is common throughout Europe. Its representatives have a length of about 35 mm and a thin long abdomen. Their wings are transparent, their legs are gray-dark or black.

In the coloring of the remaining parts of the body, decorated with a characteristic pattern, matte black, blue or greenish-yellow tones predominate.

2. Beauty girl. The length is almost 5 cm. The males have a color with a bluish or metallic tint, sometimes with the addition of greenish tones. The female has transparent, smoky wings with brown-gray veins. The variety is more prevalent in Asia, such dragonflies are found in southern Siberia.

3. A dingy lyutka lives in the European part of Russia in shallow water covered with grass. The color is greenish with a metallic sheen, sometimes green spots stand out against a yellow background.

The second suborder is diverse. The hind wings of such dragonflies have an expanded base. Out of flight, both pairs of wings are in a diluted state. Such insects boast a high flight speed. Among the varieties, the following are especially noteworthy.

1. The grandfather is ordinary. Such dragonflies reach a length of no more than 5 cm. Their eyes are green. The chest with black oblique stripes has a yellow tint, the abdomen is black with yellow spots on the sides and the same color along the longitudinal line. Legs are dark, wings are transparent. This variety is found in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

2. Blood dragonfly lives in Eurasia and North Africa. The size of such an insect reaches 4 cm. This red dragonfly. Sometimes the body of such creatures is with an orange or yellow-brown tint. The base of the wings is amber, the legs are dark. The sides of the chest are decorated with black stripes, the belly is whitish underneath.

The third suborder is named: Anisozygopter. As a rule, its representatives are closer in structure to diverse, however, combine the features of both suborders mentioned earlier.

In total, 6650 species of dragonflies are known, and more than six hundred of them are fossils. But this is not the limit, because every year many new species open up in a multitude.

The most extensive family of this order are real dragonflies, which are also called flat-bellied. It includes about a thousand species. The size of its representatives is different, there are specimens reaching a length of only 3 cm, there are dragonflies and more than 5 cm, whose wings can have a wingspan of up to 10 cm.

The color is also varied, but more often it is brown-yellow, decorated with green and blue bandages or reddish patterns.

The most common of the species is a small red tramp. it golden dragonfly (yellowish red). Such creatures are known for flying high. In addition to Antarctica, they are common on all continents.

Video: Dragonfly

The insect has also developed a trapping basket used to grab prey. During the Jurassic period, the following groups came: Lestomorpha and Libellulomorpha in these insects, the larvae underwent development in the aquatic environment and they had an improved aircraft. The insects of the Libellulida group inhabited Africa, South America, and Australia in the Triassic period. Meganeuvers still lived in Eurasia in those days, but during the evolution of their bodies and habits changed. In the Jurassic period, the Meganeurins reached the pinnacle of evolution and populated all of Eurasia. These insects had a “hunting basket”, they could hunt with it with help of it. Gas exchange in this group was carried out using the respiratory epithelium, but there were also lamellar gills, which changed over time, ceased to fulfill the gas exchange function and were replaced by internal gills.

At the same time, descendants of the family Calopterygoidea strongly evolved from the initial state. The wings of these insects narrowed, became stalked and the size of the wings became the same. In the Jurassic period, the most common insects of the suborder Anisozygoptera, the number of which decreases sharply during the Cretaceous, but this group remains widespread throughout the entire polygenic period. During this period, such species of dragonflies as Coenagrionidae, Lestidae and Libelluloidea, etc. almost disappear. The modern species of dragonflies already inhabit the Cenozoic fauna. During the Neocene, the ethnofauna is no different from the modern one. The Zygoptera population has declined sharply, but Coenagrionidae and Lestidae have become the most common species.

Lifestyle & Habitat

Dragonflies spread successfully only in those parts of the world where stable negative temperatures are not observed for more than three months a year. Their wide distribution and species diversity is largely due to the ancient origin of these insects, their ability to move quickly and actively in space, as well as a variety of food sources and taste preferences.

The lifestyle of such insects is inherent amphibious. This means that the eggs and larvae of such living organisms go through the stages of their development in water, while adult individuals (adults) carry out their activities in the air and on land.

These are beautiful flyers, which is easy to see when observing dragonflies in the summer. They are agile and quick, and among insects they are peculiar champions, developing a significant speed of movement through the air, which in some cases can reach 57 km / h.

It should be noted not only speed, but also the art of flight, as well as the maneuverability of these creatures, which streamlined bodily forms help them a lot.

The air element for dragonfly in truth can be considered a home. On the fly, she is able to not only dine, but even mate. Moreover, they are very aggressive, cruel predators, and therefore many living organisms from the world of insects have cause for concern if they envy dragonfly shadow.

Having occupied a certain territory, these creatures jealously guard it from competitors and violently fight for it with their own relatives.

Dragonflies feed on a variety of insects. Their diet also includes bloodsucking: midges, mosquitoes, horseflies. The body shape of these creatures, which helps them fly perfectly, provides them with significant services during hunting.

Dragonflies tend to attack their victims from below, overtaking them in the air. There is an explanation for this, because against the sky, the organs of vision of these predators, which actively respond to ultraviolet and blue colors, are able to perceive objects best.

These insects are naturally endowed with a powerful mouth and jagged jaws, which helps them deal with prey. And its capture is facilitated by special claws, stiff hairs on the legs and short antennae.

Seeking to earn a living, dragonfly able to engage in combat with an opponent superior in size. These creatures are very voracious, which bring considerable benefits, exterminating mosquitoes, flies and harmful insects.

They begin to hunt from dawn, and as soon as the sun sets, they settle down to sleep on the leaves of plants.

Reproduction and longevity

When the instinct begins to prompt the dragonfly-males to reproduce their own kind, they, uniting together and forming large flocks, rush to find partners. But first, they isolate the capsule with the seed and carry it with them until they find a suitable female.

Motivated by this goal, they examine territories lying in close proximity to water bodies, since the reproduction of these insects is directly related to such an element as water. But the process of copulation in these living organisms occurs in the air.

At the same time, males hold females with claws, capturing their head. During intercourse, steam is able to move through the air in a coupled state.

After fertilization, the partner goes to the water (to rivers, streams, swamps, ditches, ponds), where eggs are tossed, the number of which can reach up to six hundred pieces. They are usually deposited on plants growing above the water and below it. A few weeks later, mollusks appear from such clutches (dragonfly larvae, which are also called nymphs).

Naiad develops and grows in the water element, finds food there, hunting by hunting. The peculiar vision of the larvae allows them to see their victims only at the moments of movement.When hunting, they shoot at their prey with water. And in case of danger, the mollusk can escape from the threat by developing a sufficiently high speed, which is achieved by expelling air from the anus.

At the same time, the mollusk constantly sheds and grows, shedding tight old skin. And the number of links can reach one and a half dozen. In the final stage, the dragonfly turns into an adult insect. Her wings are spread, and she continues her life in the air.

The duration of self-feeding of the larva depends on the amount of food in the immediate vicinity of it. He believes that in this state, the dragonfly can live up to five years. True, this is only in exceptional cases, because for the most part the life span of such insects, even in all three stages of its existence, is very short.

However, it is directly dependent on the habitat and size of these creatures. On average, it is no more than ten months. But the largest individuals with a favorable combination of circumstances in the wild are quite capable of successfully carrying out their life activities for seven or more years.

For humans, these creatures are very useful. After all, they destroy a lot of blood-sucking insects, pests of forests and agricultural land. Moreover, dragonflypollinator insect, and works, helping plants multiply, along with bees and butterflies.

True, larvae can bring significant harm. They are competitors of fry in nutrition, thereby contributing to a reduction in their numbers.

Features and habitat of dragonflies

Dragonfly Description It is worth starting with the eyes of this insect, which at first glance seem disproportionate and too large relative to the overall size of the body.

However, dragonflies have the so-called facet vision, which is due to the presence of several tens of thousands of small eyes, each of which works independently and is separated from the others by means of special pigment cells.

The structure of the eyes of a dragonfly allows her to see even what is happening behind

Due to such a strange structure of the eyes, the dragonfly’s vision is much better than many other insects and allows it to see everything that happens behind, on the sides and in front and to track prey up to ten meters.

The body of a dragonfly consists directly of the head, chest, and extended belly, which ends with a pair of special forceps.

The length of the insect ranges from 3 to 14 centimeters. Coloring is very diverse and can vary from white, yellow and orange to red, blue and green.

The wings have many transverse and longitudinal veins that perform the function of strengthening.

Dragonfly insect — animal, which is one of the record holders for travel speed: although the average speed of its flight is usually from 5 to 10 km / h, some species are capable of speeds up to one hundred km / h during flights over long distances.

So despite the image of idly staggering dragonflies jumpingcreated in one famous fable, this insect is very mobile and leads an active lifestyle.

Dragonflies have three pairs of legs, which are covered with a layer of protective bristles. During the flight, the limbs of the insect are folded in the form of a “basket” in order to catch prey with lightning speed in case it is detected. The wings have dark spots that perform the function of vibration protection.

It is worth noting that the first jet aircraft took to the air due to the fact that scientists entomologists shared with designers and engineers this feature of the structure of dragonfly wings, which used this element in the structure of aircraft, which would still have scattered, barely breaking away from the surface of the earth if would not be dragonflies.

The habitat of dragonflies is very extensive and extends from the territory of modern Europe and Asia to the African continent, Australia and America.

Dragonflies live mainly among meadows, fields and at the edges of forests. A prerequisite should be the presence of a reservoir nearby.

Dragonfly Character and Lifestyle

Dragonflies lead a solitary lifestyle, preferring to hunt on their own. Due to its specific structure of wings, a dragonfly can either freeze in the air, making an instant stop, or fly over long distances, overcoming several hundred kilometers without rest.

During planting, the dragonfly does not fold its wings, like many other insects, but leaves them always in a straightened state.

The main peak of activity occurs in the daytime, during which the dragonflies fly in search of prey.

In hot hours, they can be observed in large numbers along the shores of water bodies and over forest edges.

Dragonfly flight is silent, due to which the dragonfly can imperceptibly approach the prey.

They can write intricate turns in the air, do somersaults and even fly backwards. Thanks to this ability, dragonflies can easily escape from the predators chasing them.

Appearance and features

Photo: What a dragonfly looks like

All dragonflies have a very recognizable appearance. The color of these insects may be different.

In the body of an insect stands out:

  • head with big eyes
  • brightly colored shiny body
  • chest,
  • transparent wings.

These insects, depending on the species, can be of different sizes: the smallest dragonflies are 15 mm long and the largest are about 10 cm long. The head is large, can rotate 180 °. On the head of the dragonfly there are eyes, which consist of a large number of ommatidia, their number ranges from 10 to 27.5 thousand. The lower ommatia can perceive only colors, and the upper only the forms of objects. Due to this feature, the dragonfly can navigate well and easily find prey. The parietal part is swollen; three eyes are located on the crown of the head. The antennae of the dragonfly are short, awl-shaped, consisting of 4-7 segments.

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The mouth is powerful, formed by two unpaired lips — upper and lower. The lower lip consists of 3 lobes, covers powerful lower jaws. The upper one has the shape of a short plate, which is elongated in the transverse direction, it overlaps the upper jaw. The lower lip is larger than the upper one, thanks to it the insect can chew prey during flight.

The chest consists of 3 divisions: prothorax, metathorax and midbrain. There is a pair of limbs on each part of the chest, and insect wings are located on the middle and back. The front part is separated from the middle. The middle and back of the chest are fused and form a synthorax, and it is perceived by the chest. The shape of the chest is flattened from the sides, the part of the chest located on the back is pushed back. The mesothorax is located above the posterior thorax, due to which the wings are intertwined behind the legs. The pronotum is divided into 3 lobes; the middle lobe usually has a dent. The segments on which the wings are located are hypertrophic pleritis.

The wings are transparent, consist of two chitin layers, each of them is formed by its own system of veins. These veins overlap each other, so the network of them seems unified. The venation is complex and dense. Different orders of these insects have different venation systems.

The abdomen of a dragonfly is mainly rounded and elongated. In rare species, flat. The abdomen makes up most of the body of the insect. Consists of 10 segments. On the sides are pleural membranes that allow the dragonfly to bend. In all segments, in addition to 9 and 10, there is one sigma. At the end of the abdomen, anal appendages are located in females of 2, in males 3-4. In females, the genitals are located at the end of the abdomen, in males, the compilation organ is located on the 2nd segment of the abdomen, the vas deferens is located on the tenth segment of the abdomen. The limbs are strong and developed, consisting of: hips, coxa, tibia, vesicle, paws. There are spikes on the limbs.

Where does the dragonfly live?

Photo: Pink Dragonfly

Dragonflies are widespread throughout the world. These insects can not be found, probably only in the Antarctic. A special variety of species of these insects can be found in the Indo-Malayan zone. About 1664 species of dragonflies live there. 1640 species inhabit the neotropic. And also, dragonflies like to settle in the afrotropic, about 889 species live there, in the Australian region about 870 species.

In countries with a temperate climate, fewer species of dragonflies live, this is due to the thermophilicity of these insects. There are 560 species in the Palaearctic, 451 species in the non-Arctic. For life, these insects choose places with a warm and humid climate. The presence of a reservoir is very important for dragonflies, in the mating season, the female lays eggs on the water, eggs and larvae develop in the aquatic environment. Depending on the species, dragonflies have a different attitude to the choice of ponds and the need to live near water. For example, dragonflies of the species Pseudostigmatinae are content with small undergrowth reservoirs. Can be used for breeding small ponds, lakes or flooded pits. Other species settle near rivers, ponds and lakes.

Larvae spend their lives in water, and adults learning to fly can fly long distances. Found in meadows, forest edges. Dragonflies love to soak up the sun, it is very important for them. With the onset of cold weather, dragonflies fly away to countries with a warmer climate. Some dragonflies fly up to 2900 km. Sometimes dragonflies migrate in especially large numbers. Flocks were recorded, numbering up to 100 million thousand individuals. But more often, dragonflies do not stray into flocks, but fly alone.

Now you know where the dragonfly is found. Let’s see what she eats.

What does a dragonfly eat?

Photo: Dragonfly in nature

Dragonflies are predatory insects. Adult individuals feed on almost all types of insects inhabiting the air environment.

Dragonflies are included in the diet:

Dragonfly larvae feed on mosquito and fly larvae, small crustaceans, and fish fry.

By the methods of hunting, these insects are divided into several subspecies.:

  • free hunters who hunt in the upper tier. This group includes species of dragonflies with powerful and developed wings, able to fly well and quickly. These species can use flock hunting, but more often they hunt alone at a height of 2 to 9 meters above the ground,
  • free-flying predators hunting in the middle tier. These dragonflies hunt at a height of 2 meters. They’re always looking for food, they can sit down on the grass for a few minutes to rest, and then they start hunting again,
  • dragonflies are in wait. This species is distinguished by its unusual way of hunting. They quietly sit on the leaves or stems of plants, peeping prey, from time to time breaking down to attack,
  • dragonflies that live in the lower tier. These dragonflies hunt in thickets of grass. They slowly flutter from one plant to another in search of insects that sit on the plant. This species eats the victim sitting on a plant, and does not eat during flight.

Interesting fact: Cannibalism is very common in all types of dragonflies. Adult dragonflies can eat smaller dragonflies and larvae. Sometimes females, after mating, can attack the male and eat him.

Features of character and lifestyle

Photo: Blue Dragonfly

In our country, dragonflies live from late April to October. In warm and tropical countries, these insects live all year round. Dragonflies are insects with a daily lifestyle. Most active in sunny and warm weather.

In the morning, dragonflies try to bask in the sun, sitting on stones or pieces of wood. During the midday heat, they take the “gleam” position, in which the luminous tip of the abdomen is directed towards the sun. This reduces the effect of sunlight on the body of the insect, and helps to avoid overheating.

Interesting fact: Dragonflies practically do not use their legs for movement, they are used only during take-off and landing. The rear pair of limbs is used to capture prey.

Dragonflies go hunting in the morning and evening. Some species are very active at dawn. In the daytime, dragonflies are engaged in procreation. At night, insects hide among thickets of foliage and grass. Mostly dragonflies live alone.

Interesting fact: Due to the structure of the wings, dragonflies can fly very quickly, make interesting turns in the air, and migrate over long distances. Due to the fact that dragonflies are well versed in the art of flight, they are very difficult to catch for predators.

Social structure and reproduction

These insects go through three stages of transformation:

  • egg,
  • mollusks or larvae
  • adult insects (imago).

Many dragonflies are capable of producing more than one offspring per year. Insects mate right in the air. Before mating, the males perform a kind of ritual dance in front of the female. They flies around her, doing unusual things in the air. Females after mating lay from 260 to 500 eggs. The cause of the death of the eggs is eating them by other creatures, including dragonflies.

Also, water pollution, or a decrease in air temperature. Under favorable conditions, the larvae hatch from the eggs in a couple of days, but often in a temperate climate, the larvae are born only in the next spring.

Interesting fact: Dragonfly eggs can overwinter unchanged and the larvae will hatch next spring.

Only hatched from an egg, the size of the larvae is 1 mm. At this stage, the larva lives only a few minutes, then begins to molt. Depending on the subspecies, the larvae develop different times and pass a different number of molts. Larvae are able to feed on their own and lead an underwater lifestyle.
Usually, larvae are inactive, burrow into the ground or hide among algae. Dragonfly larvae feed on larvae of mosquitoes and other insects, fry of small fish and crustaceans.

The natural enemies of dragonflies

Photo: Blue Dragonfly

The main enemies of dragonflies are:

  • birds,
  • predatory fish
  • orbiting spiders, tramp spiders and tetranatids,
  • reptiles
  • predatory mammals.

Eggs and small larvae are eaten by fish, crustaceans, and other larvae. Most eggs die without hatching, predators eat them, or they are not allowed to develop adverse weather conditions. In addition, dragonflies are often parasitized by sporozoans. Trematodes, round thread worms and water mites. Because of their lifestyle, dragonflies are also often the victims of insectivorous plants.

Dragonflies are very nimble insects that fly pretty fast. In the daytime, they can disguise themselves as a reflection of the sun, sitting on plants or trees with their abdomens down, their transparent wings are poorly visible to many predators, and this disguise allows dragonflies to circle the enemy around the finger.

In addition, dragonflies fly masterfully, and it’s very difficult to catch a dragonfly, the only option for a predator to eat this insect is to catch it by surprise. Larvae, protecting themselves from predators, try to bury themselves in the ground, or hide in algae. Larvae swim very rarely, although they know how to do it very well.

Population and species status

Photo: What a dragonfly looks like

The population of the detachment Odonáta is numerous and diverse. In the world there are more than 6650 species of these insects. These insects are found on all continents, make migrations. Many species of these insects live well and breed in the wild. However, today some species of dragonflies are on the verge of extinction and their populations are rapidly declining. This is due to human pollution of dragonfly habitats.

A number of species are listed in the Red Book. At the end of 2018, more than 300 species are listed in the Red Book.Of these, 121 species are on the verge of extinction, 127 subspecies have the status of insects in a vulnerable position, and 19 subspecies are already extinct. The species Megalagrion jugorum is considered extinct. In the global population, in general, about 10% of all dragonfly species are on the verge of extinction.

Dragonflies are a very important group that indicates the status of water bodies, as dragonfly larvae react strongly to any changes in water quality. Dragonfly larvae die in contaminated water bodies. In order to preserve the population of these insects, you need to be more careful about the environment. Install cleaning equipment at enterprises, create conservation areas in dragonfly habitats.

Dragonfly guard

Photo: Dragonfly from the Red Book

Dragonflies have a very important role in the ecosystem. These insects kill blood-sucking insects that carry various diseases. Dragonfly larvae are food for many fish species, and birds, mammals and spiders feed on adult insects.

In addition, dragonflies are excellent indicators of the ecological situation, since dragonfly larvae cannot develop in polluted water. Today, many species of these insects are listed in the International Red Book to track populations. They are taken under special protection.

A dragonfly conservation society has been established to track the population of these insects. With the development of new territories by man and the advent of urbanization, the dragonfly population began to decline. This is due to the drainage of water by people, the construction of enterprises, roads and cities.

Dragonfly — a very beautiful and amazing insect. Watching these creatures is very entertaining. We must be careful about the environment in order to preserve the diversity of species of these insects.

Types of Dragonflies

Today in the world there are about 5000 types of dragonflies. The main varieties are divided into three orders:

  • Damselfly, which include beauties, arrows and flute. They are incredibly light weight.
  • There are many-winged species, to which such varieties as ortetrum, libella, sympetrum and rocker can be attributed. In this species, the pair of hind wings has an expanded base, which served as the name for this suborder.
  • Anisozygoptera is a rare suborder distributed exclusively in countries such as Nepal, Tibet and Japan. Combine the characteristics of both of the above suborders.

Beauty girl — lives mainly in the southern regions and regions with a subtropical climate.

Male and female dragonflies beauty girl differ in color

Females of this species, for laying eggs, can sink directly into the water to a depth of one meter, forming an air bubble around themselves.

They are found exclusively within clean reservoirs, being original indicators of their purity.

Fatima is a rare species listed in the Red Book. It lives in areas of mountain rivers and streams along the sandy coast.

Dragonfly fatima

The ordinary grandfather is a species that inhabits the territory of modern Europe. It is also found in the Urals and around the Caspian Sea.

Ordinary grandfather

Ant lion is dragonfly insectalthough his flight is rather slow, and his behavior is generally sluggish and unhurried.

In the photo, an ant lion, which is often confused with a dragonfly

Dragonfly Nutrition

What does a dragonfly eat? Since it refers to predators, then dragonfly feeds on insects. It grabs small insects with jagged jaws right in flight, large ones with tenacious paws.

In order to hunt for large prey, a dragonfly has to descend to the surface of the earth and wait for prey sitting on a blade of grass or a twig.

In the event that the dragonfly noticed its victim directly in flight, it will masterfully repeat the flight path of its prey, after which it will approach it as close as possible and make a sharp jump in order to grab it with its paws.

The structure of the jaws of a dragonfly allows it to easily absorb even large prey

The dragonfly eats its prey unusually quickly, since it is a very voracious insect.

In one day, she needs to consume an amount of food that is significantly higher than her own weight, so that her daily diet is several tens of flies, mosquitoes and other insects.

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