8 Fascinating Dragonfly Facts You Should Know

Updated: Jun. 21, 2023

From how many species of dragonflies exist in the world to the unique way they breathe, discover all you need to know about dragonflies.

Amazing Dragonfly Facts

Around The Pond, dragonfly factsTMERSH/ISTOCK
A dragonfly lands on a flower.

Dragonflies are a staple of summer. Their brightly colored bodies dot the warm breeze with all the colors of the rainbow; their stained-glass wings are marvelous to behold. But while you know when you’ve spotted a dragonfly, there’s plenty you might not know about these pretty mosquito-eaters. Here’s a collection of dragonfly facts to bulk up your knowledge about these beneficial insects.

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Dragonflies Fly Faster Than You Think

dragonfly factsCourtesy Karyn Swaney
Dragonflies are fast fliers.

While they might be letting the breeze carry them when you spot one, dragonflies can move pretty quickly when they need to. Two pairs of transparent wings propel them forward as fast as 35 miles per hour.

How fast do hummingbirds fly and flap their wings?

Dragonfly vs Damselfly

277294107 1 Diana Hudgins Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Diana Hudgins
Dragonfly on a coneflower plant

You can tell the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly by looking at their wings. Dragonfly wings point away from the bodies when at rest.

Learn fascinating caterpillar facts you should know.

Dragonflies Are Always Seeing the Sights

Flame (firecracker) Skimmer resting on grass stem. Santa Clara County, California, USA.yhelfman/Getty Images
Flame skimmer resting on a grass stem in California

Dragonflies aren’t very big, so it takes some serious maneuvering to keep from flying into things. They use over 80% of their brain power to interpret what they see.

Learn how to attract skimmers.

Dragonflies Have Short Antennae for a Reason

damselfly, pictures of bugsCourtesy Bernie Stang

While some bugs have long antennae, dragonfly antennae are quite short. There’s a good reason for that — small antennae make it easy for them to get close and bite their prey. To grab larger prey and hold it in midair, dragonflies use their legs.

Don’t miss these pictures that will change how you see bugs.

Dragonflies Breathe in an Unusual Way

252872255 1 James Hobbs Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy James Hobbs
Ruby meadowhawk dragonfly

This might be the most surprising of our dragonfly facts. You might think these bugs breathe with the same mouth they use to bite their prey…and you would be wrong. Instead of using their mouths, dragonflies breathe through holes in their abdomens.

Discover the bugs you should never kill in your garden.

Dragonflies Are Ancient

Cretaceous Dragonfly FossilJames L. Amos/Getty Images
A cretaceous dragonfly fossil found in British Columbia

Dragonflies have been around a very, very long time. They are some of the oldest animals on the planet, with fossils dating back more than 300 million years.

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There Are Thousands of Types of Dragonflies

dragonflyCourtesy Marina Neyman
Blue dasher dragonfly on waterlily

Nearly 2,500 different types of dragonflies are found all over the world, in colors from purples to bronzes that often shimmer or look metallic. They lay their eggs and hunt around water, so consider installing a pond to attract them to your backyard.

Next, check out creepy crawly facts about spiders.