Dragonflies are valuable insects to have in your garden. These predatory insects feed on mosquitoes and other bugs and help keep ponds and pools in your yard bug-free.

Large, multi-faceted eyes, two sets of wings and a long, needle-like body characterize dragonflies. The compact eyes of a dragonfly allow it to see everything within almost 360 degrees around them. And even though they have legs, dragonflies are unable to walk.

Dragonflies are found mostly near ponds and streams. They lay their eggs in water, and the young larvae are called nymphs. The nymphs live underwater, sometimes for as long as five years. When they are ready to become adults, they climb from the water and immediately begin to breathe and prepare to live on land. At this stage, their wings appear and they seek out mates. This winged phase only lasts a few weeks.

Dragonflies are not true flies. They are from an entirely different order of insects. Some form of dragonfly has existed on earth for over 300 million years. The dragonfly has adapted to be a much smaller insect in this time. A fossilized dragonfly was found with a wingspan of over 3 feet. Today, over 5000 species of dragonflies have been recorded worldwide, with 450 species alone residing in the US.

The flight speed of a dragonfly is extremely fast for an insect. They have been recorded at 30 miles an hour. This is a critical reason for their success as flying insect predators.

Myths about dragonflies have existed throughout centuries. These creatures will not harm humans in any way, but they will fly close and hover near people, which can be disconcerting. Dragonflies have the ability to fly in any direction and will often dart back and forth quickly, positioning themselves to catch their prey on the wing.