Fun Dobsonfly Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 05, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel
Dobsonfly facts for kids are educational!

The Dobsonfly, scientific name Corydalus cornutus, belongs to a group of insects in the subfamily of Corydalinae they are one of the largest non-Lepidoptera insects. They have four similar shaped and sized net-veined wings, when they are resting their wings are locked up flat over the back which is extended to their abdomen.

A male Dobsonfly looks breathtaking because of its sickle-shaped jaws.

These species are found in Asia, Africa, South and North America, and Australia. There are nine genera in Dobsonfly species which are constituted in four lineages known as Chloroniella, Neuromus, Protohermes, and Corydalus.

The Dobsonfly's larvae are called hellgrammite, they prey upon the invertebrate species in the rocky streams. Dobsonflies have a quirky way of flying but they can travel significant distances, sometimes they are found at some distance from a water body. Adults live an extremely brief period in their life span and do not require to feed.

If you like these true facts about Dobsonfly, then you'll surely like these facts about the darkling beetle and water beetle too!

Dobsonfly Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a dobsonfly?

The Eastern Dobsonfly (Corydalus cornutus) is a species of insects belonging to the subfamily of Corydalinae, they are soft-bodied with colors ranging from yellow to darker shades of brown, with four veined wings. A female dobsonfly has a small mandible (jaw) compared to the males.

The subspecies known as Asian Acanthacorydalis fruhstorferi from the family of dobsonfly is considered to be the largest dobsonfly and also the largest aquatic insect with a total length of 8.5 in (21.6 cm).

What class of animal does a dobsonfly belong to?

The Eastern Dobsonfly (Corydalus cornutus) belongs to the class of Insecta, and also belongs to the largest group of the arthropod phylum. Insects usually have an exoskeleton with a three-part body, and they also have three pairs of legs. All insects lay eggs and they are considered to be pests all over the world.

How many dobsonflies are there in the world?

At present, there is no accurate data available on the total population of dobsonflies.

Where does a dobsonfly live?

The larvae of dobsonflies are known as hellgrammites and toe-biters, they are aquatic insects mainly being the source of food for fishes.

Anglers use these larvae as fish-baits, as they are easily found in the rivers and hidden on the streams among rocks. Once the larvae start maturing they move away from freshwater and search for habitat with wet soil, decaying vegetation, and moss to turn into a dobsonfly pupa, before finally turning into adults and completing the circle of life.

They are mainly found across Asia, America, and South Africa.

What is a dobsonfly's habitat?

The dobsonfly habitat is easily found in the flowing rivers and hidden amongst the rocky streams. Megaloptera larva is an important element of the macroinvertebrate zoology and they also serve as nature's indicator of water pollution. A subspecies of Platyneuromus dobsonfly larvae which are accustomed to the habitat of Central America and Mexico is similar to the Corydalus species.

Who do dobsonflies live with?

Dobsonflies are nocturnal species, they are most active during springtime. They are seen together during mating seasons.

How long does a dobsonfly live?

The dobsonfly (common name) is a species that has a life cycle that includes the stages of egg, larva, pupa, and adult. They live two to three years of their life span in the larva stage and the adults live for shorter than few days or a week.

How do they reproduce?

A dobsonfly male is competitive when it comes to females, they aggressively hover over the opponent and try to flip them with the help of their long mandibles.

They approach the females from the side and try to touch them with their antennae. Once the female stops nodding their heads from side to side the males try to come closure and place his mandibles over the female's wings and transfer the gelatinous spermatophore.

It takes one to two weeks for the egg masses to hatch and become dobsonfly larva known as hellgrammites, they crawl to the water and mature in almost two to three years.

What is their conservation status?

Currently, these large species of aquatic pests found in streams are listed as Not Extinct on the IUCN Red List of animals. They can be found all over the world and are extremely common, so with that in mind, it is easy to say that they are abundant in nature and are in no way, close to extinction.

Dobsonfly Fun Facts

What do dobsonflies look like?

Fully grown eastern dobsonfly (Corydalus cornutus) are large insects with a total wingspan of 7.1 in (18 cm) belonging to the order Megaloptera known for large wings, when they are resting their wings are held backward extending towards the abdomen. Females have smaller but powerful mandibles capable of a painful bite.

Larva dobsonfly is also called hellgrammites they grow up to 3 in (7.62 cm), with gill filaments along the sides of the abdomen. Dobsonflies pupa is the stage when the larvae start developing antennae, wings, and legs.

How cute are they?

On the scale of 1-10 dobsonfly scores only 3, just because they spend their major life cycle in larvae form and when they grow into an adult they do not survive more than one or two weeks. Their larvae form is called hellgrammites, with colors ranging from black to dark brown. They are mostly used as attractive fish baits.

How do they communicate?

An adult dobsonfly uses scent glands that are on its abdomen, helping them while mating. The Eastern dobsonfly Corydalus cornutus uses its mandibles while courting with females, indicating that touch is also a mode of communication for them. Hellgrammites depend majorly on chemical and touch senses to search for prey, their eyes can detect shadows and motions.

How big is a dobsonfly?

Fully grown dobsonflies, 7.1 in (18 cm) in length, are considered to be the largest non-Lepidopteran insects in the places such as Canada and United States. The Asian Acanthacorydalis fruhstorferi, 8.5 in (21.6 cm) in length, is the largest subspecies among the dobsonfly family and the largest aquatic insect in the world.

How fast can a dobsonfly fly?

Dobsonflies have a shaky and trembling way of flying, but sometimes they are found far from a water body traveling a significant distance. The speed with which they fly is not known.

How much does a dobsonfly weigh?

Even though an accurate weight has not been recorded, these aquatic pests have a small body which means they are lightweight and weigh less to nothing.

What are their male and female names of the species?

At present, no particular names have been assigned to the species gender of the dobsonflies.

What would you call a baby dobsonfly?

A dobsonfly nymph is commonly known as hellgrammite, though the origin of this name is still unknown.

Hellgrammites are unlike the traditional insect larvae as they molt into exarate pupae and have fully functional and separate legs, along with their mandibles and appendages. By their looks, they resemble wingless adults and their only defense against predators is to thrash around and expect for the best.

A dobsonfly that has just reached adulthood, will come out of the safety of the nest they are born in and transform into its final form.

What do they eat?

In the life cycle of a dobsonfly, they do not feed as an adult and die in a shorter span. The larvae of a dobsonfly are also known as hellgrammites and are extremely aggressive predators, prey on other aquatic insects, immature chironomid midges, mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies.

Are they poisonous?

No, they are not venomous at all. Despite the size and the scary look, they are not poisonous. Though their bites can be painful at the moment but do not last long. Dobsonflies do carry a foul and irritating smell which helps them as a defensive mechanism as a last resort.

Would they make a good pet?

No. They would not. They are gross and even though keeping them as pets might seem a good idea for people who want to keep all sorts of creatures as pets, it isn't recommended to keep one as a pet! They have a short lifespan and are not suitable pets.

Did you know...

A dobsonfly's larvae bite can be extremely painful if mistreated. Many people have tried the dobsonfly bite test and found out their ability to pierce the human skin.

Male dobsonflies have sickle-shaped jaws which are called mandibles and it is bigger compared to the female's species.

Hellgrammites are extremely popular among anglers for being the best bait due to dobsonfly size which is large compared to other baits and vicious nature. Anglers usually pin them through the thorax.

Eastern dobsonflies are attracted to lights so many entomologists use a black light to capture these insects.

The body of a hellgrammite has eight abdominal segments, they have gills on the side from the first segment to the seventh segment. They can breathe both in and out of the water.

A dobsonfly life cycle has four stages starting from being egg masses to maturing into a hellgrammite. they spend two to three years of their lifespan in this form and then move out of fresh water and search in wet areas to move up to the next stage as a pupa and then mature into an adult.

Males are slightly larger than females.

The Eastern dobsonfly (Corydalus cornutus) is harmless to crops and properties and is not dangerous. They are considered pests and can be easily killed by locally acquired pesticides.

The Eastern dobsonfly is very sensitive towards pollution, they prefer clean and oxygenized water.

What do male dobsonflies use their mandibles for?

The mandibles of males are used only when they are copulating, they have no other use of the mandibles except for mating rituals. Females have firm and smaller mandibles compared to males, but they can inflict a painful bite.

What do dobsonfly eggs look like?

After mating, the dobsonfly female will lay cylindrical shape eggs with a litter size of 1,000 white color eggs of 0.05 in (1.5 mm) long and 0.01 in (0.5 mm) wide.

The white layer helps to protect the eggs from dryness and heating, a female will not deposit all the eggs in one site they will lay eggs in several sites.

It has been found that the egg is covered in three layers, the clear fluid which dries in changes into white color which stipulates birds dropping.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including stick bug, or Christmas beetle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our dobsonfly coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel

Bachelor of Business Management

Yashvee Patel picture

Yashvee PatelBachelor of Business Management

Yashvee has won awards for both her writing and badminton skills. She holds a business administration honors degree and has previously interned with social media clients and worked on content for an international student festival. Yashvee has excelled in academic competitions, ranking in the top 100 in the Unified International English Olympiad and placing second in an essay-writing competition. Additionally, she has won the inter-school singles badminton title for two consecutive years.

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