Dragonflies. You see them buzzing around all summer throughout most of the world; maybe you’ve even seen them hunting other insects. They can look pretty intimidating, so this may have caused you to wonder: are dragonflies dangerous to humans? Do they behave aggressively toward people? Do they bite or sting? Keep reading as we explore the answers to all of these questions!
What You'll Learn Today
Are Dragonflies Dangerous to People?
Dragonflies do not pose any real threat to humans. In fact, they are one of the few insects that most people actually like.
There are thousands of different dragonfly species in the world, each with its own set of unique, glittery colors. Watching dragonflies buzz over bodies of water and snatch prey insects in their long legs is truly a sight to behold.
And, as you might imagine, dragonflies are extremely dangerous to other insects, especially those that fly. They are cold, calculating killers who snag their prey right out of the air, successfully capturing their next meal 95 percent of the time they make the effort.
And yet, these creatures which could be considered apex predators of the insect world are not really capable of hurting humans. They don’t have a particularly potent bite or sting, do not carry venom or diseases, and are not known for causing any symptoms beyond very minor skin irritation.
So no, dragonflies are not dangerous to people. If anything, many humans consider them beneficial because they help keep other insect populations under control.
Do Dragonflies Behave Aggressively Toward People?
Dragonflies don’t hesitate to take down a wide variety of insects when they are hungry–even if their prey appears physically larger than them. In other words, they pursue their food aggressively and rarely back down.
But do they show this same aggression toward humans?
Dragonflies would much rather fly away than pick a fight with a person. If they have an escape route, they will always choose to flee over becoming aggressive.
That is not to say dragonflies won’t show a more aggressive side if they feel they have no other options. If they are backed into a corner and cannot fly away, they may try to fight their way out of a situation.
For example, if you were to capture a dragonfly and were trying to hold it or handle it, the dragonfly may flap its wings and gyrate its body around in an attempt to escape.
If you were to chase a dragonfly into a corner, it might turn around and fly at your face before escaping at the first possible opportunity.
So the answer to this question is that, in most cases, dragonflies are not aggressive toward people. They will only become aggressive as a means of self-defense if they feel threatened.
Do Dragonflies Sting or Bite People?
Dragonflies are unable to sting, as they do not have a stinger. So, they do not sting people, animals, or insects.
If you were to tamper with a dragonfly while it is laying eggs, it may end up emplanting its eggs in your skin or clothing. However, this rarely happens, and it does not feel like being stung; in fact, you may not feel anything at all.
There is also some evidence that some dragonfly nymphs can embed themselves in a human’s skin. If you were to pick up a dragonfly nymph, it would likely wiggle its body back and forth, working the spine-like projections on its body into your skin.
Again, though, this is not the same as being stung, as the dragonfly baby releases no venom.
What about biting though?
Dragonflies can bite; in fact, they have powerful jaws which they use to kill or disable prey while hunting, as well as to eat the prey.
All dragonflies can bite, though only the largest species in the world can penetrate human skin. For all the rest, you may feel a pinch that causes mild pain and surprise, but you probably won’t be left with any visual evidence of the bite.
The largest dragonfly species can break the skin, causing minor bleeding and pain. You will need to treat this bite mark as you would any other minor, superficial injury–by cleaning it and applying an antibacterial ointment.
It is worth noting that dragonflies don’t typically bite humans. They will only do it if they feel threatened and have no other options, as you can see from the video below:
So, if you catch a dragonfly and try to handle it, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to defend itself by biting you. Depending on its size, you may not even feel the bite, or you may feel it but won’t be left with a bite mark.
If the dragonfly is large enough, its bite may draw blood but won’t cause any serious or permanent damage.
The best thing to do is to simply leave your local dragonflies alone; admire them from a distance, but don’t try to handle them. If you don’t threaten them, then chances are they will leave you alone too.
Dragonflies are not dangerous to humans. They can bite, and large species may be able to draw blood; but they only bite if they feel threatened and this bite rarely causes any real damage to the skin. Actually, one could argue it is the opposite – humans are dangerous to dragonflies…