In Flight

The adult dragonfly looks different from its nymph form. The male adult's black body is about
70 millimeters (2.8 inches) long.
It has dashes of apple green and turquoise. Its bright colors are used to attract a mate.

This male southern hawker dragonfly is in flight.

An adult southern hawker's eyes have thousands of lenses.

The adult dragonfly has two compound eyes. Each has thousands of lenses. The front of each eye focuses on forward flight. The top of each eye searches for prey.

Adult dragonflies also have three simple eyes. They form a triangle between the compound eyes. Nerves connect them to the dragonfly’s flight muscles. They signal the position of the dragonfly’s prey.

The southern hawker has two sets of wings. It uses its wings to fly forward, backward, or sideways. It can beat its wings together. Or, it can move each one separately. To fly, the wings twist in a figure-eight motion. It can fly up to
54 kilometers (34 miles) an hour.

Dragonflies have six legs, but most cannot walk.

This southern hawker is on the hunt for flying insects.

Focused Hunter

The southern hawker is a deadly hunter. Its success rate is about
95 percent.
Its prey is caught while the dragonfly is in flight.

The dragonfly must be able to predict where its prey will be. It must figure out three things. The distance. The direction. The speed of its prey. Then the dragonfly plots its course.

The dragonfly holds its legs forward. It grabs the prey in the air. Then it bites off the prey’s wings before eating its body.

Eating and mating are a southern hawker’s only two jobs. Within two months, the adults die. Then their eggs wait for the life cycle to begin again.

Some females lay their eggs in the water.