By Ian Evans (February 2010)
1. Introduction. Dragonflies (Odonata) are an ancient order of insects, dating back at least to the Carboniferous period, 250 million years ago. They have a three-stage life-history; adults, eggs and larvae (or nymphs) . The adults are strong fliers, preying on smaller insects caught in flight. The eggs are laid in water or on/in plants, by the females, often flying in tandem with the males. The larvae are aquatic predators, growing via a series of moults, often spending several years in this stage. When mature, the larvae emerge from the water, climb nearby vegetation, and shed their last larval skins (exuvia) and emerge as adults. At first their colours are somewhat muted (teneral), but soon mature; males and females are often differently coloured, the females usually less gaudy.
Dragonflies are of two types, the usually smaller damselflies, with wings that are folded back along the
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