The scientific name of dragonfly is Dendrilla and it belongs to the family of Hemiptera (true flies). They are found all over the world. There are approximately 1,000 species. Most species live in water but some live on land.
Some species are pests and others beneficial insects such as aphids. Dragonflies feed mainly on other insects, larvae, mites, worms and even small vertebrates like lizards and frogs.
There are many different types of dragonflies. Some species feed exclusively on one type of insect while others feed on several kinds. Dragonflies are commonly known as “water bugs” because they live mostly in bodies of water, including lakes, rivers and oceans. However, there are some species that do not live near water and instead prefer dry areas such as deserts or grasslands.
Some dragonfly species are called “stingers”. These species inject venom into their prey before biting them. A few species of dragonflies are predators and eat only other dragonflies. Others, such as the common house mosquito, are omnivores and will eat almost anything.
An Aphid is a tiny winged insect that lives inside your home’s walls or ceiling. They are an invasive species of insect that originally came from Europe and they can breed very rapidly. These insects are known for targeting your apple trees and other fruit trees in your backyard. They eat the soft parts inside the fruits and once they have eaten all the nutritious content inside, the fruits fall off from the tree.
Aphids are very small in size (0.5-4 mm long) and come in a variety of colors ranging from green to black. The aphid’s head is also very small and has a long snout. The female aphid has a pair of tubes known as cornicles or siphunculi, which are located on its rearmost segment.
It uses these tubes to shoot out a smelly chemical known as the “honeydew” which is a sugar-rich fluid. This fluid is used by ants as a source of food.
Aphids are very tiny insects that suck the juices out of your favorite plants. They multiply very rapidly and can cause a great deal of damage to your lawn.
Dragonflies In Your House
Dragonflies are beautiful large flying insects with long slender bodies, long legs and antenna and large multifaceted eyes. They have poor vision but a good sense of smell and an excellent sense of hearing. There are four, mostly tropical species in our area.
The commonest house dragonfly is the green darner, an insect familiar to every child in America. It is a big handsome insect, colored blue and green, with yellow-rimmed wings striped black and yellow. The female lays her eggs in the water and the larvae (nymphs) that hatch out hunt tadpoles and small swimming creatures. The adults do not feed at all.
They live only a few weeks during which they breed and then die.
Although they do not sting, they will bite if handled. Their bite is very painful and can cause a swelling the size of half an egg.
The mosquito is a small flying insect with three pairs of wings. The front pair are small and are stiffened so that they form a grid over the second pair which are used for flying. The back pair are little more than halters and are not used in flying. They have large bead like eyes and three small knobs that act as nostrils.
They have threadlike antenna and a long segmented body. Male mosquitoes are smaller than females and have little saw like teeth while the female has a long needle-like system for piercing the skin and sucking the blood of its victim.
They lay their eggs in stagnant water, looking for still pools that offer protection from predators such as fish and larger insects. The eggs hatch when they sense the vibrations of a passing prey animal such as a water bird or human. The larvae are like tiny tadpoles semi- independent and swim about by wriggling. They have strong jaws to bite their prey as well as the ability to produce a hormone that prevents their blood-prey from freezing and becoming immobilized.
When full grown they crawl out on land where they pupate before metamorphosing into adult form.
A mosquito’s bite is nothing more than an itchy spot for most people. But for people with a low immune system such as the very young or old or those suffering from diseases such as cancer, malaria or AIDS the bite of an infected mosquito can prove fatal.
The disease is carried by a type of mosquito that lives around pools of fresh water such as bogs and swamps. The disease is contracted when the animal preys upon another infected animal. Today, mosquitoes can be found in most countries of the world and due to the increase in the transportation industry have made their way to even the coldest regions.
To prevent mosquito bites, use insect repellent and cover exposed areas of flesh. Do not allow stagnant water to collect in items such as buckets, barrels, flowerpots and rubbish bins. Cover drain holes to prevent mosquito breeding. Use screens on windows and doors.
Get rid of standing water in old tires, buckets or anything that could collect rainwater.
The yellow fever mosquito is not really yellow and it doesn’t normally feed on humans. It is relatively small compared to other species, measuring up to only 2.5 centimeters. It has a black, white and gold body with a brown head.
Its abdomen has black and white stripes.
It prefers to live around poorly drained swampy areas as this provides it with plenty of water in which it can breed. It also tends to lay its eggs in man-made containers such as old buckets and tin cans.
The larvae are translucent and have black heads. They normally feed on organic matter on the bottom of the water such as dead insects or leaves. They pupate in the water before emerging as adults.
The mosquito spreads several disease such as the West Nile virus and malaria. It is also known to cause other less common viruses such as the Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis and yellow fever. It can also carry dog heartworm.
The mosquito bites mainly between the hours of dawn and dusk when it is cooler. The female needs the protein found in blood to produce its eggs. It can breed in as little as a thimbleful of water.
It can spread disease rapidly as it can lay up to 500 eggs at a time which quickly grow into adults. It has been known to spread disease among troops in wartime, something which has caused devastating losses in the past.
The first case of yellow fever in the New World was recorded in Hispaniola in 1527. The disease then spread along the Caribbean islands before arriving in South America and Mexico. It reached Texas in 1827 and New Orleans in 1828. Outbreaks occurred in Georgia and the Carolinas in 1831, ’32 and ’33.
It is believed that the disease arrived in Barbados in 1647. By the middle of the 18th century it had spread throughout the Caribbean and South America. The first recorded outbreak in North America was on the Georgia coast in 1738.
Sources & references used in this article:
Why snakefeeder? Why dragonfly? Some random observations on etymological entomology by BE Montgomery – Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of …, 1972 – journals.iupui.edu
Odonata: Dragonflies, Damselflies by KJ Tennessen – Encyclopedia of Insects, 2009 – Elsevier
A balancing act in urban social-ecology: human appreciation, ponds and dragonflies by J Silsby – 2001 – CSIRO publishing
What Bit Me?: Identifying Hawai’i’s Stinging and Biting Insects and Their Kin by RWJ Ngiam, WL Lim, CM Collins – Urban ecosystems, 2017 – Springer
The sting of the wild by GM Nishida, JAM Tenorio – 1993 – books.google.com
DRAGONFLIES AND DAMSELFLIES–OPPORTUNITIES FOR FURTHER RECORDING IN THE FORTH VALLEY by JO Schmidt – 2016 – books.google.com
Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects by J Willet – Naturalist Papers – fnh.natsci.stir.ac.uk
Dragonflies through binoculars: a field guide to dragonflies of North America by A Sverdrup-Thygeson – 2019 – books.google.com
Buzzing Bugs by SW Dunkle – 2000 – books.google.com