Fly fishing with dinosaurs – the deadly dragonfly

The iridescent, jewel-like dragonfly looks graceful, beautiful and harmless.

But don’t be fooled, while you’re busy fly fishing, these airborne insects devour everything in and out of the water.

The dragonfly is a dinosaur of the insect world. It has been around as a species for over 300 million years and here’s why: it’s a killing machine.

Enter the dragon…fly larvae

The dragonfly spends up to the first three years of its life under the water as a nymph. But if that makes you think of it as anything other than deadly – think again. The larvae has the mouth parts of a ninja and the appetite of a Sumo wrestler.

Retractable grappling jaws spell death to mosquito larvae, tadpoles and even small fish. It lies in wait – be warned, this clip is not for children or the faint hearted.


The dragonfly larva molts several times before taking on its adult form but just as it’s safe to go back in the water, this raptor of the insect world takes to the air.

For a few short hours, the emerging adult is vulnerable; its soft wings need time to straighten and harden. And then the killing begins again.

Bee warned

With its doubled up wings, the adult dragonfly has the appearance of a biplane but although its looks are vintage, its performance is anything but.

The dragonfly has one of the fastest flight velocities of any insect – reaching top speeds of up to 30mph. It preys on other airborne insects while on the wing, and then settles down to enjoy a grisly feast – like this hapless bee.

While the dragonfly is deadly to other insects, it’s totally harmless to humans – which is just as well. So next time you see one shimmer past you on a summer’s afternoon – relax, some other poor creature is on the menu.