From divers to aerobatic artists

Dragonflies and damselflies

Just imagine having to view the world from 30,000 eyes while coordinating six legs and four wings. That would probably be extremely complicated and result in quite a few headaches. But dragonflies manage it effortlessly and look so delicate and elegant that they are occasionally likened to elves. But dragonflies can be impressively big. For example, the Emperor Dragonfly has a wing span of around 10 cm! If one flies past you, you can hear its wings rustling. Pond damselflies, such as Blue Damselflies grow to roughly half the size, but are no less impressive. The sheer colourfulness of dragonflies and damselflies ensures they get noticed, which was not always to their advantage. In superstitious times they were called 'devil's darning needles' or 'ear cutters' - people believed that dragonfly stings could kill horses. Since dragonflies cannot sting they are thus either pacifists or the vernacular is quite simply wrong. Dragonflies and damselflies depend on clean, still bodies or water because they undergo an astonishing development. The whirling dashes of colour start their lives as underwater residents. Dragonfly larvae are carnivores that catch other insects, tadpoles and, occasionally, a young fish. They spend more than half of their lives at the larva stage before they use stalks to climb out of the water. There, the mature dragonflies hatch out of their larvae skins and go on to live the rest of their lives as aerial hunters. They catch their prey in flight where their two pairs of wings are a real help. Thanks to them, dragonflies are extraordinarily agile - they can even fly backwards! Where dragonflies are found they are an indication of intact habitats - and the opposite is also the case: their existence is threatened by drainage and pollution.  One of the reasons for the creation of this body of water for species protection was to assure the future of these fascinating insects.

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