U is for Uhler’s Sundragon
Photo by Matt Tillett on Flikr.
Uhler’s sundragon is a rare dragonfly that lives in the eastern U.S and Canada.
Not much is known about its lifecycle, but it is seen most often flying very quickly along the banks of fast-moving streams.
Dragonflies have incredible abilities to fly up, down, backwards and forwards and can stop and hover – they have full control over each of their 4 wings and use and can control unstable aerodynamics.
Their eyes are enormous for their size, and they can see where they are going and where they have been – so it is very hard for a predator to surprise them.
They have 5 cones in their eyes and can see in full colour and in ultraviolet and also polarised light. The detail with which they can see is excellent – they can even focus on and keep attention on different places, so that fixing on more than one target in a swarm of flies is easy.
Scientists used to think that they followed their prey and tracked it to catch it, but in fact they can predict the flight pattern of their prey and intercept it. They are voracious, efficient predators that rarely miss their mark.
The females are caught by the male and held while mating – then they have to evade their predators to lay their eggs in the water to hatch into nymphs – this water stage of their lives can take up to two years.
Dragonflies were around at the time of the dinosaurs, and reached huge sizes – they would have been a scary opponent.
Photo © as above.
Poem © Liz Brownlee.
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