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Desert Diary



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Dragonflies. Darning Needles. Contrary to Old Wives Tales, these beautiful insects will NOT knit your lips closed, but they're certainly fun to watch! Blues, reds, and greens may dart past you—and you might notice one dragonfly returning to the same post.

This is no dance—it's predators seeking their prey! If you try to catch one, you'll find out just how quick they are and how sharp their vision is. Their wings allow them to hover, change directions, even fly backwards when necessary! But sit quietly, and let them get used to you. Who knows, one might choose a perch nearby from which to look for prey.

Even the aquatic larvae are keen predators. They hunt for other insects, as well as tadpoles and even small fish! A larva may live several years in this state before finally changing into an adult.

Perhaps one of life's tragedies is that these beautiful predators lose their flair when they die. Their brilliant colors literally fade to black. This is truly an insect best enjoyed zooming through its vibrant life. pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Kodi R. Jeffery, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

dragonfly image

A dragonfly—preserved specimen. Photograph by A.H. Harris.



Borror, D. J., and R. E. White. 1970. A field guide to insects, America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 404 pp.

Web Resources

Kansas dragonflies