DRAGON-FLIES AND DAMSEL-FLIES
Dragon-flies are the larger members of this order of insects and damsel-flies the smaller. The New Zealand Odonata fauna is not rich in species but those that do occur are perhaps the most conspicuous members of the whole insect fauna. The large dragon-fly, with a wing span of about 5 in., has a very rapid flight. The most common species are smaller and measure about 3 in. across the wings. Damsel-flies are yet smaller and also more slender. The main species are the blue and the red damsel-flies. Insects of this order mate in flight and united pairs flying in tandem over the water are common sights. Eggs are laid in the stems of aquatic plants, on logs, or directly into water. The young are called nymphs and have little resemblance to adults. They live in water and only the adult stage is non-aquatic. Adult food consists of other insects, mostly small flying species which are captured on the wing. “Horse-stinger” is a common New Zealand name for dragon-flies and damsel-flies, but the term has no significance since these insects have no sting nor do they associate with horses.
by Roy Alexander Harrison, D.SC., Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Zoology, Lincoln Agricultural College.