Discover dragonflies this summer

Female blue dasher by Don Enright

Female blue dasher by Don Enright

Make sure you don’t miss one of summer’s most dazzling group of animals – the dragonflies. After spending many months emerged in Beaver Lake and Lost Lagoon as underwater nymphs, they have finally made the incredible transformation to a magnificent flying predator.

Some of the best places to see them right now is from the viewing platform by Beaver Lake and from the trails around Lost Lagoon.

In their larval stage, which can last up to two years, dragonflies are aquatic and eat just about anything—tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, other insect larvae and even each other.

At the end of its larval stage, the dragonfly crawls out of the water, then its exoskeleton cracks open and releases the insect’s abdomen, which had been packed in like a telescope. Its four wings come out, and they dry and harden over the next several hours to days.

As an adult, dragonflies live anywhere from two weeks to a year, and during this time they are focused on finding a mate. They  have a voracious appetite and a single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.

Blue-eyed darner by Michael Schmidt

Blue-eyed darner by Michael Schmidt

The best way to tell dragonflies apart from the relatives, the damselflies, is by looking at the way they hold their wings. In a resting position, most dragonflies will hold their wings away, and perpendicular, to the body, whereas damselflies hold their wings close to the body.

So, make the dragonflies your excuse for exploring Stanley Park this summer; when you see one of these little shining jewels, stop and marvel at its beautiful colors and behaviors.