Have you ever been to a pond or lake and watched the dragonflies as they seem to dance in the air from plant to plant?
I remember one time when I was fishing with my dad and a big bright blue dragonfly landed on the tip of my fishing pole. It stayed there for several minutes and then it flew towards my dad and landed on the brim of his hat. Oh how I wish I had a camera that day.
Dragonflies are really pretty and come in many different colors. I’ve seen blue ones, green ones, red ones, orange ones, yellow ones, purple ones and black ones. When the sunlight hits them just right their colors shine brightly as if they have neon lights on them.
Besides how pretty they are or fascinating it is to sit and watch them, have you ever looked closely at them to see how special they are? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
The first things you notice on a dragonfly are its wings. They have two sets of wings. If you look closely at the wings, they are so thin and fragile looking that you can see through them. Some dragonflies have color on their wings that make them look like tiny stained glass windows. They have special muscles that can flap the wings, tilt the wings and even make each wing move differently than the others. These special muscles allow the dragonfly to fly forward, backward, move up and down and to hover in one place like a helicopter and they can even do a loop-to-loop. While a bee will flap its wings up to 300 times a second, a dragonfly’s wing only beats about 30 beats per second. They can fly up to 36 miles per hour which is about 51 feet a second.
The head of the dragon is bigger around than the other parts of the body. Dragonflies can easily turn their heads around which allows it to see in all directions. They have huge compound eyes. Compound eyes means that instead of having only one lens in their eye like you have, they have about 30,000 lenses in each eye.
The thorax is the middle section of the body where the wings attach. The thorax has three sections. Like all other insects, dragonflies have six legs. Each section of the thorax has a pair of legs attached to it. The wings only attach to two of the sections.
Have you ever seen a dragonfly walk? They fly everywhere they go. They use their legs more for catching insects than for walking. The legs have sharp spines that help them grab and hold on to insects. Dragonflies eat other insects. One of their favorite insects to eat are mosquitoes, especially the ones that are just hatching out of the water.
The abdomen is the long narrow section behind the wings and legs. Did you know that if held a dragonfly’s head under water, they would not drown? Believe it or not, the dragonfly breaths through its abdomen, not through its head and nose like you and I do. If you look really close to the abdomen, you will see a series of tiny holes along the sides. These holes are called spiracles. All insects breath through their spiracles.
The largest dragonfly in the world today is either the Giant Petaltail which is found in Australia or the Giant Hawaiian Darner from Hawaii. They both have wing spans of over 6 inches across. Some people will tell you that the largest dragonfly is found in Central and South America and has wings that measure 7.5 inches across, but they are wrong. This is actually a damselfly, which looks a lot like a dragonfly, but it is not a dragonfly. The largest dragonfly in the United States is the Giant Darner whose body is over 4 inches long. The smallest dragonfly in the world is the Pygmy Dragonfly from Southeast Asia. Its body in just over ½ inch long and its wings only measure about ¾ of an inch across. The smallest dragonfly found in the United States is the Elfin Skimmer whose body is about ¾ of an inch and wings that barely measure an inch.
Have you ever heard of the word metamorphosis? Metamorphosis is a fancy word that means that animals like dragonflies and all other insects go through a series of changes in their life cycle. Dragonflies start out as eggs, then hatch into nymphs and finally the nymphs turn into adults. They lay their eggs on plant stems in the water and if there are no plants available, they just lay the eggs in water. Dragonflies usually will lay the eggs in ponds, lakes and calmer waters along the edges of streams and rivers. The water needs to be fairly calm so the eggs don’t get washed away. After a brief time, the eggs hatch out into nymphs. They are strange looking creatures, like a monster in a scary movie. The nymphs live in the water and eat anything they can catch, including each other. Some dragonfly nymphs can live for up to 4 years in the water. Eventually they will crawl out of the water onto a plant stem. Their skin will split open and the adult dragonfly crawls out. It stretches out its wings and as soon as the wings dry and become stiff, the dragonfly is ready to fly off and hunt for bugs.
No one is really sure how dragonflies got their name. One suggestion is that they fly around and hunt like dragons did, so they were called dragonflies. Another source believes that they got their name from a Romanian legend. In the legend, the Devil turned Sir George the Dragon Slayer’s horse into a very large fly. The people called it the Devil’s Fly. The Romanian word for Devil is drac. This also happens to be the same word for dragon. Over the years, Devil’s Fly became Dragon’s Fly, and when it was translated from Romanian into English, it became dragonfly. However, they are so beautiful and special, that perhaps it would have been better had they been called Angelflies?
Did dragonflies evolve? Could evolution be responsible for the compound eyes with 30,000 lenses mounted on a head that swivels? Or what about the delicate wings and special muscles that allow dragonflies to fly in any direction? How could evolution have created the strange life cycle of egg to nymphs that live in the water to adults that dance through the air?
But evolutionists will argue that they find fossil dragonflies and that proves they are hundreds of millions of years old. The largest fossil dragonfly ever found had wings measuring almost 30 inches across. But we know that fossils can form much faster than evolutionists think. That may be a topic for an article next week – how fast can fossils form?
So, the obvious answer to the question is no, it would have been impossible for the dragonfly to have evolved.
Well, we do know when dragonflies first appeared. The Bible tells us that God made all of the flying creatures on Day 5 of Creation. Since God created the earth and everything on it about 6,000 years ago, we know that dragonflies can’t be millions of years old. So we know who made them and when they were made.
The next time you see a dragonfly dancing in the sky or from plant to plant, remember how wonder and beautiful God made them.