“Merrily singing with no future thoughts:” Moscow’s dragonflies

August 18

Dragonflies are the most ancient flying insects. Today, scientists have described over 6,650 dragonfly subspecies that differ in terms of colour and size, according to specialists from the Moscow Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection (Mospriroda).

Dragonflies live near water, such as lakes, ponds, swamps, marshes and slowly-flowing rivers. They can also be found in areas where there are many insects, including meadows and forest glades. Members of two dragonfly families, Coenagrionidae and Aeschnidae, inhabit Moscow’s Moskvoretsky nature and history park.

Members of the Coenagrionidae family are small and slender dragonflies with blue miniature bellies, part of the suborder Homoptera.   Members of the Aeschnidae family are much larger, masuring up to 73 mm long, and they are part of the Anisoptera suborder. When the insects are idle, their wings are located perpendicular to the bodies’ axis. While flying, members of the Aeschnidae family can use each pair of wings separately for greater manoeuvrability.

Members of the Aeschnidae family have brown thoraxes and bellies, transparent and colourless wings and green eyes. Their second belly segment has a tell-tale triangular spot. Yellow spots can also be found near the base of their rear wings.

Dragonflies have long limbs consisting of five main sections. Their hips and shins are covered with two rows of spikes. Dragonflies use their front feet for holding their prey, and they use all others for takeoff and landing.

Members of the Aeschnidae family, including adults and larvae, are active predators. Adults attack gadflies and mosquitos on the ground, with larvae eating their eggs in the water. Larvae are very sensitive to water pollution. It is therefore very important to keep areas of water clean.

It is possible to watch members of the Aeschnidae family from July to September. They are active during the day, although they can also fly at night. They like warm and sunny days and sleep on treetops.

Dragonflies are capable fliers and can attain high speeds, the equivalent of 60 kph for motor vehicles. These insects can hover in midair for a while, as they go in search of their prey.

Source: mos.ru

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