Friday, July 22, 2011

The Red Dragon

One hot day we drove several secondary roads in Arizona off Rt. 260 to Beasley Flat  which offered convenient access to the banks of the Verde River.  That day the access road was bumper to bumper cars of young people wanting to beat the heat.
Real heat seems to bring out insects of all kinds.  Dragonflies are a good example.
 
Genetically, dragonflies pre-date recorded history and modern classification is difficult because it is thought they are a combination of several very early species.  The difficulty is apparent in the Wikipedia description:  "an insect belonging to the order Odonata, the suborder Epiprocta or, in the strict sense, the infraorder Anisoptera."
They are usually found around lakes, streams and wetlands.  This day its winged morphology hung close to the Verde.
Dragonfly nymph under water displays vestigial wing cases.  
  As a nymph, the dragonfly is a fierce predator.  Its ultimate evolutionary form is indicated by the embryonic wing cases on the back of its thorax. When it morphs into the form familiar to most of us, it feeds on mosquitoes and other insects like fliesbeesants and sometimes the occasional butterfly
Even though dragonflies have six legs they cannot walk well. 
 Dragonflies are some of the fastest insects in flight.  If one looks back far enough, however, it has passed through a much slower life. 

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