Dragonflies and Damselflies are zooming around the Pineywoods. Other than being a delightfully pretty insect in East Texas, the dragonflies and damselflies perform a great service in the region by destroying mosquitoes, gnats, and other insects. These brightly colored creatures perform spectacular aerial displays thatiare sure to intrigue any onlooker and is becoming a popular wildlife viewing subject.
Dragonflies and Damselflies are types of insect belonging to the order Odonata, derived from the Greek word odonto meaning tooth. Damselflies have a narrow rectangular head, along with eyes separated by more than their own width. A dragonfly’s eyes are never separated by more than their own width. Both dragonflies and damselflies are predators. Even though dragonflies possess six legs like any other insects they are not capable of walking. They are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as “nymphs”, are aquatic.
There is an estimated 435 species or ordonates living in North America, with more be recorded each year. Approximately 212 species or ordonates live in Texas.
These insects are most active when temperatures are above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Some Dragonflies and Damselflies are attracted to the acidic conditions of the bogs of East Texas, while others may prefer running streams and still others make their homes in ponds or slow moving water. When searching for dragonflies or damselflies, look for as many different aquatic habitats as possible.
Approximately 15 percent or one in six species of North American dragonflies are at risk of extinction, including some Gulf Coast species. Habitat features most important to the conservation of Dragonflies and Damselflies include pristine streams, arid land streams and ponds, sand bottomed lakes, bogs and fens.
Close-focusing binoculars have enabled insect watchers to observe dragonflies and damselflies in their natural habitat without disturbing them. Binoculars are capable of clearly showing the insects colorful markings and detailed wing patterns. Just a few years ago the only demand for binoculars came from that of hunters, birders, and often did not have a focus distance less than 10 feet. Insect watching has become increasingly popular and in turn demanded close focusing binoculars.
Photography is the only reliable way to preserve color in Dragonflies and Damselflies for later reference and identification. Photographing these beautiful insects will provide you with the opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge with other enthusiasts.