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How Far Do Globe Skimmer Dragonflies Migrate?

Globe skimmer dragonflies are only about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long, but they migrate more than 11,000 miles (more than 17,700 km) back and forth across the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. They are thought to be the most widely distributed dragonfly in the world and are the highest-flying dragonfly in the world, having been recorded flying in the Himalayas at heights of 20,300 feet (almost 6,200 m).

More facts about dragonflies:

  • Globe skimmer dragonflies can lay as many as 2,000 eggs at a time. After the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on shrimp, tadpoles and even small fish.

  • Dragonflies are extremely effective hunters. In fact, one experiment found that they can catch 90 to 95 percent of food that is released into an enclosure. Dragonflies catch food while they're flying, and they do so by grabbing the food with their feet.

  • Dragonflies can fly at speeds as fast as 35 mph (about 56 km/hr), but they normally cruise at slower speeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average migration distance for Globe Skimmer dragonflies?

Globe Skimmer dragonflies, also known as Pantala flavescens, undertake one of the longest migrations of any insect species. They can travel distances averaging 4,400 miles (7,000 kilometers) across the Indian Ocean. This remarkable journey is part of their life cycle, allowing them to exploit seasonal opportunities in different geographic regions.

Why do Globe Skimmer dragonflies migrate such long distances?

Globe Skimmer dragonflies migrate to find optimal breeding conditions and to take advantage of abundant food resources. Their migration is closely tied to the monsoon season, as they follow the rains that create temporary freshwater pools necessary for breeding. This ensures a higher survival rate for their offspring in environments with plentiful prey and fewer predators.

How do Globe Skimmer dragonflies navigate during their migration?

Globe Skimmer dragonflies are believed to use a combination of environmental cues for navigation, including the sun's position, polarized light patterns, and wind currents. Their ability to glide on wind currents is particularly advantageous, allowing them to cover vast distances with minimal energy expenditure. This efficient travel is essential for their transoceanic journeys.

What is the lifespan of a Globe Skimmer dragonfly, and how does migration fit into it?

The lifespan of a Globe Skimmer dragonfly typically ranges from several months to a year. Migration is a crucial phase in their life cycle, usually occurring during the adult stage. After emerging and maturing, they embark on their epic migration to breed and lay eggs in new territories, ensuring the continuation of their species.

Are Globe Skimmer dragonflies the only dragonflies that migrate?

No, Globe Skimmer dragonflies are not the only migratory dragonflies, but they are among the most notable for their extensive travel. Other dragonfly species, such as the Green Darner and the Black Saddlebags, also migrate, but their journeys are generally shorter and less extensive than those of the Globe Skimmer.

What threats do Globe Skimmer dragonflies face during their migration?

During their migration, Globe Skimmer dragonflies face several threats, including habitat loss, climate change, and severe weather events. Habitat loss due to human activities can reduce the availability of breeding sites and food sources. Climate change may alter weather patterns and wind currents, impacting their ability to navigate and survive the long journey.

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