You’ve probably seen a dragonfly go speeding past you at least once in your life. Perhaps you were lucky enough to see one chasing down its prey or escaping from a larger predator, and if so, you were probably impressed by its speed and flying ability. So, just how fast can a dragonfly fly? How are they able to attain such incredible speeds? Keep reading as we dive into the answers to these questions!
What You'll Learn Today
How Fast is a Dragonfly?
Dragonflies are exceptionally fast-flying insects. Their wings are strong and powerful, allowing them to fly not only forward but in all other directions at great speeds.
It has been observed that dragonflies can move in a forward motion about 100 times their own body length every second.
Their wings have to be properly warmed up before they can fly, so they often sit in the sun or vibrate their wings to warm up before lifting into the air. Once they begin flying, their wings beat so quickly that you can’t see them with the naked eye.
Dragonflies have two sets of wings; as one flaps upward, the other flaps downward, and vice versa, as shown in the video below:
Not only that, their wings can twist rather impressively from the base of their thorax, giving them excellent maneuverability. The movement of their wings allows them to dart here and there, move forward and backward, side to side, and up and down, and to fly at incredible speeds when necessary.
So, just how fast can they go?
How Fast Can a Dragonfly Fly in Miles Per Hour?
A dragonfly’s top speed is somewhat dependent on its species. Certain types of dragonflies are capable of flying much faster than others.
This may be why, when researching how fast a dragonfly can fly, you discover a multitude of different answers. There is no single top speed that any dragonfly can go, as it will depend on the type of dragonfly in question.
Generally speaking, most dragonflies have top speeds somewhere between 18 and 30 miles per hour. Some dragonflies can fly between 30 and 34 miles per hour, and the fastest dragonflies in the world can go even faster than that–up to 36 miles per hour.
Again, their superior flight patterns and wing strength enable them to reach these impressive speeds. They are known for being some of the fastest insects in the world.
These speeds are necessary to their survival, as most dragonflies rely on their fast flying skills for hunting. They must be able to capture other fast insects, such as flies and mosquitos, by sneaking up on them and plucking them out of midair; otherwise, they would quickly starve.
What’s more, their ability to fly fast often helps them escape from danger such as insect-eating animals, moving vehicles, and children with butterfly nets.
Some species of dragonfly migrate as well, and their flying skills allow them to cover great distances in relatively short amounts of time. Some of these dragonflies have been recorded as traveling an average of 7.5 miles per day, though they have been known to travel as much as 100 miles in a day.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of good reasons why dragonflies are able to fly fast. But you may still be wondering: how do they do it?
How Do Dragonflies Fly So Fast?
It all goes back to their physical design and flight pattern.
As mentioned above, dragonflies have two sets of wings that beat opposite of each other. This allows them a greater amount of lift and maneuverability than they would have if both sets of wings worked in tandem.
They beat their wings about 30 times per second, which is a relatively slow rate compared to some other insects (bees, for example, can flap their wings as much as 300 times per second). That said, when combined with their flapping pattern, this wing-beating rate allows them to move extremely fast.
Simply put, dragonflies are very efficient flyers.
The speed at which they beat their wings, the ability of the wings to turn and twist with great flexibility, and the fact that the sets of wings work independently of each other–all of these factors work together to make dragonflies some of the greatest flying creatures of the insect world.
Check out this video to see how scientists are learning more about dragonfly flight and how they hope to apply this knowledge in the future.
Dragonflies are some of the most skilled flying insects in the world. Depending on their species, they can reach top speeds between 18 and 36 miles per hour, which enables them to hunt other insects, escape danger, and in some cases, migrate over long distances.