Does A Dragonfly Bite Or Sting? Interesting Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Does A Dragonfly Bite Or Sting? Interesting Facts For Kids

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The dragonfly and damselfly belong to the Odonata order.

The dragonfly is closely related to the damselfly. You may have seen these insects flying around water sources in your neighborhood.

The body and wing length can differ from one species to another. The mean body length of the most common dragonfly, the globe skimmer, is 31.4 in (80 cm) and the wingspan is 6 in (16 cm). The dragonfly has a head, abdomen, and thorax. They have enormous eyes that take up more than half of the space on their head. The thorax bears the wings and legs. Most of the flying insects have two wings, but dragonflies have four wings. Their wings are made of veins and membranes.

They have mandibles instead of teeth, and they use their mandibles to cut down their prey into smaller pieces. These mandibles are found on either side of the dragonfly. There are 10 segments on the abdomen. These four-winged insects are exclusively carnivores. The members of the Odonata family mainly eat mosquitoes, butterflies, moths, and bees. Frogs, birds, and fish are the main predators of dragonflies.

Dragonflies reproduce sexually. The female dragonfly can lay up to 1,500 eggs per clutch. There are three stages in the life cycle of a dragonfly: the egg stage, the larval stage, and the adult life. In the group of winged insects, dragonflies are the strongest flyers. Large dragonflies can fly at a speed of 22-34 mph (10-15 kph). They can also fly backwards. These insects might mate more than once in a year, but they rarely lay eggs twice in a year. Dragonflies migrate just like birds. They mainly migrate in the late summer or early winter.

Do dragonflies bite or sting? Are they aggressive? Continue reading this post to find out.

Do dragonflies bite?

Dragonflies are an excellent illustration of how looks can be deceiving. Who would have guessed that these placid critters bite humans?

However, dragonflies are not one of those flies that will go around attacking people for no reason. They do not bite people by nature, they only bite people in self-defense when they feel threatened or when they are being handled roughly or in an unpleasant manner. It is common for animals to attack when they are threatened.

These ferocious aerial predators attack their prey and predator by using their strong jaws and legs. When it comes to humans, they only use their mouths. Dragonflies use their strong mandibles and try to puncture the human skin. They do not have teeth, instead, they have two sharp mandibles. This defense mechanism is used to break free from a person's tight grip. A majority of the small dragonflies, despite having powerful jaws, are still not successful in breaking the human skin. Only some large adult dragonflies have mastered the skill.

This calm-looking insect has other names like devil’s darning needle and horse-stinger, which often gives people the wrong idea that it can sting. Contrary to popular belief, a dragonfly is not a fierce stinging insect. In fact, it cannot sting. Its long thin tail is often mistaken for stingers, which makes everyone think the dragonfly is a stinging insect. Unlike flies like bees, dragonflies do not have stingers hence, they can not sting and use their mouth for defense.

This brings us to the next question, how painful is a dragonfly bite? Dragonflies do not have stingers and their mandibles barely penetrate the skin. So, most of the time, you won't even notice the dragonfly bite. It causes no pain. In rare cases, where the mandibles have penetrated the skin, and for people with sensitive skin, the bite might cause mild pain, which is equivalent to the pain caused by an ant bite.

How can I protect myself from dragonfly bites and stings? There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from dragonfly bites and stings. Firstly, always be aware of your surroundings when you are near water. If you see a dragonfly flying around, try to avoid it. If you do get bitten or stung, wash the site with soap and water and then apply a cold compress. Finally, if you are feeling ill after being bitten or stung by a dragonfly, seek medical attention immediately.

Did you know? Dragonflies are not as harmful as we think. Having dragonflies in your house can do more good than harm. Adult dragonflies eat insects and help in controlling pests. They also eat mosquitoes. A dragonfly can eat 40 to 100s dragonflies each day. So, think twice before driving a dragon to fly out of your house.

Dragonfly Bite Symptoms

Dragonfly bites are the least painful insect bites. As previously mentioned, they only bite you when they are threatened by your presence. So, the chances of getting bitten by a dragonfly are relatively low. Even if a dragonfly bites you almost 80% of the time, it goes unnoticed as its bite is not powerful enough to pierce through your skin. There are 7,000 dragonfly species in the world and more than 70% of the species cannot even harm humans.

If you get bitten by a dragonfly, you are unlikely to notice it, as the pain delivered is sharp but not powerful enough to make you notice. Since the skin is not broken at the site, in most cases, there are no symptoms either. In cases where the skin is broken, you will be able to see a small red spot. This red spot is similar to other insect and bug bite marks. People with sensitive skin might experience a slight burning sensation near the bitten site. In rare cases, slight swelling and redness can also be seen. These are the only symptoms.

Did you know that fish and adult dragonflies can cohabit in a water source. But they don't, as fish and frogs typically prey on dragonfly eggs.

Dragonflies bite human beings when they are threatened, otherwise, this species is perfectly harmless.

Dragonfly Bite Treatment

If you are bitten by a dragonfly, there is a strong probability that you will not even notice it.

Dragonfly bites are not severe enough to induce life-threatening symptoms that require a need for immediate medical intervention. They don't even make you bleed. As a result, if a dragonfly bites you, you may just walk away. It is quite rare for it to cause allergic responses. If you still can't let it go, you might use a disinfectant to clean the area. You will not need painkillers either, as the pain caused by a dragonfly bite is equivalent to or sometimes lesser than the pain delivered by an ant bite.

Did you know that dragonflies catch their prey by using their feet. In the early stages of their life, when the legs are not fully developed, they use their extendable lower lip, also known as the labium, to catch prey. In a study conducted by Harvard University, dragonflies were able to catch almost 95% of their prey in the enclosure.

Are dragonflies poisonous?

There are one million insect species in the world, out of which only 5,000 are dangerous.

Fortunately, most of the flies that we come across, including dragonflies, do not fall under the dangerous or poisonous category. They cannot harm humans. The body of this insect does not synthesize any toxins or poison that are harmful to humans. These creatures are not entirely harmless, as they have a biting habit that is not used unless they sense danger. They carry a lot of parasites. So it can cause a lot of infections in pets like dogs and cats. But they do not cause any serious or life-threatening health issues to humans.

Dragonfly Myths:

Dragonfly myths are super popular when compared to the myths about other insects.

It is widely believed that dragonflies are stinging and aggressive insects, both of which are untrue. They can neither sting, nor are aggressive in nature. The myth that dragonflies sting comes from a misidentification. Male dragonflies have hooks that are used to hold the female dragonflies while they are mating. These hooks look like a stinger, hence the confusion. Some female dragonflies have a tube to release their eggs, which are made in a way to make a minor cut on plants, which helps them deposit their eggs within the plant. In some cases, the female dragonflies have tried to break the skin of human beings, thinking that they were plants. All of these incidents contributed to the popular myth that dragonflies sting.

Another common myth is that dragonflies can sew your mouth. This is mostly used by adults to scare children to keep them away from catching or harming insects. Adults even came up with the name devil's darning needles, and say that the abdomen of these insects can be used as needles to sew a child's mouth. This is nothing but a caveat that is told to naughty children.

There are different folklores all over the world that brand dragonflies as evil insects that harm human beings. The old wives' tales in Sweden state that dragonflies are vile creatures that could poke the eyes of people. Due to this, this insect was also known as the blind stinger. In the German and Englan folklores, dragonflies are a sign of the arrival of a devil. Hence, they are referred to as water witches, snake slayers, devil's horses, and hobgoblin fly. There is no evidence to confirm any of this. We actually benefit a lot from dragonflies. The only suitable name for these flying insects would be mosquito repellants since their presence pushes mosquitoes away from a residence.

The myth that dragonflies represent gods and other supernatural beings was common among the Pueblo Native American tribes. In the kachina celebrations, dragonfly kachinas are made to chase people. These kachinas have yucca whips that are used to whip people. It is also believed that if a pregnant woman looks right into the eyes of a dragonfly, her baby will be born with eye defects. Harming dragonflies is said to bring bad luck to the person, as they have offended the gods.

Written By
Lydia Samson

<p>A diligent and driven mass communications graduate from Caleb University, Lydia has experience in media and a passion for digital marketing and communications. She is an effective communicator and team-builder with strong analytical, management, and organizational skills. She is a self-starter with a positive, can-do attitude.</p>

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