Have you ever wondered how to hold a dragonfly? There are actually a couple of different ways you can do it. Keep reading to learn about the best ways to catch, pick up, and hold dragonflies, as well as helpful information on what to do if a dragonfly lands on you or bites you.
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How to Catch a Dragonfly?
Dragonflies can fly extremely fast, so catching one is pretty difficult. When attempting to catch a dragonfly, you’ll have to be quick but also careful so as not to injure or kill your specimen.
The best way to catch a dragonfly is to use a soft mesh net such as a butterfly net.
Take your net into an open field or an area near a water source–anywhere in your area where you know or have seen dragonflies congregate. It’s easiest to catch a dragonfly while it is resting, but you can also try to catch one in flight if you’re quick enough.
Once you have your sights set on a specific dragonfly, approach it slowly; the dragonfly will most likely see you, as dragonflies have large eyes and many species have nearly 360 degree vision; but you’re attempting to show the insect you’re not a threat, so move slow and don’t get any closer than necessary.
Once you’re ready to strike with the net, do it fast. One swift movement is the best way to go.
Close off the net opening with your hand once you’ve caught your dragonfly; this will prevent it from being able to escape the net.
Of course, you don’t want to leave the dragonfly in the net any longer than necessary; you will have to use your hands to remove it. What’s the best way to do this?
How to Pick Up a Dragonfly?
There are two different ways of picking up a dragonfly. With both methods, the goal is to avoid hurting the dragonfly and avoiding being bitten.
Let’s take a look at each of these methods in turn.
As shown in this video:
The ideal method for catching any insect is to allow it to crawl onto your hand. The same is true when attempting to handle a dragonfly, though it’s worth noting that this method probably won’t work if you’ve just caught the dragonfly in a net.
Most dragonflies won’t crawl willingly onto your hand unless the weather is unseasonably cool or you find the insect early in morning, before the sun and daytime temperatures have warmed its wings enough to fly.
When attempting this method, it’s best to wear gloves so the dragonfly won’t be able to bite you. Dragonflies don’t bite frequently, but it can be quite painful when they do.
Find a dragonfly resting on a plant or other object; approach it slowly so it won’t get spooked. This requires a lot of patience and slow, steady movements.
When you are close enough, place your finger in front of the dragonfly and slowly move it closer to its front legs. Let your finger touch its legs gently; this will likely prompt the dragonfly to put its front legs on your finger.
Move the finger further underneath the dragonfly’s body, slowly and gradually, allowing the dragonfly to climb onto your finger. Its wings may buzz furiously throughout this process as the dragonfly makes an extra effort to warm so it can fly away; but won’t be able to fly until it has reached a body temperature of 104 degrees F.
Allow the dragonfly to sit on your finger or hand until it flies away, or transfer it to a carrying container if you need to take it somewhere.
As shown in this video:
This method allows you to safely remove a dragonfly after catching it in a net.
Reach into the net and take hold of the dragonfly at the base of wings on one side of the body. Grab it between your fingers, with your thumb on top and fingers on the bottom; hold it securely as close to thorax as possible.
Be careful not to twist your hand or move around too much so you can avoid hurting the dragonfly. Hold it firmly but gently; you don’t want it getting away, but don’t want to squish it or break its wings either.
Remove the dragonfly from the net. This next step shouldn’t be done while the dragonfly is still in the net because you could damage its wings.
Gently bring the wings from the other side over to the side you’re holding, gently folding both sets of wings together. Make sure only the wings are folded; you don’t want to fold or squish the body at all.
Be very careful. Hold the dragonfly by the base of its folded wings, as close to the thorax as possible, so you don’t squish the body or damage the wings. The wings are strongest near the thorax, so holding them here is the safest method.
Again, be firm but gentle. Don’t hold the dragonfly any longer than necessary; transfer it to another container or release it as soon as possible.
What to Do When a Dragonfly Lands On You?
When a dragonfly lands on you, it’s best to let it be; the insect will probably fly off again in a few minutes. Hold still and remain aware of it so you don’t accidentally injure it.
If you need to remove it, see if it will crawl onto your finger; if it is warm enough, it will likely just fly away instead. If it crawls onto your finger, transfer it to a plant, wall, or some other surface.
Again, it may be best to wear gloves while doing this, but if you aren’t already wearing them and have no way of putting them on, it’s okay. Just be gentle and careful in your movements so the dragonfly doesn’t feel threatened.
What Happens if a Dragonfly Bites You?
Dragonfly bites can be painful, but they aren’t dangerous. Dragonflies have no venom to inject, they are not poisonous, and their bites don’t cause any serious structural damage.
Dragonflies have large mouths with powerful jaws; these jaws are capable of chomping down on a variety of insects, and they are responsible for causing unpleasant effects if they bite you.
As shown in the video below, some dragonfly species are strong enough to chew away bits of skin; after being bit by them, it may look like you have a minor, superficial scrape or abrasion. Dragonflies are unable to draw blood, so your risk of infection is extremely low.
If you are bitten by a dragonfly, wash the area afterward and apply mild pain-relieving cream if necessary. The pain shouldn’t last long and you should not experience any lingering effects from the bite.
You can hold a dragonfly by allowing it to crawl onto your hand or by gripping it carefully at the base of its folded wings. When handling a dragonfly, wear gloves to avoid being bitten, and be very gentle so as not to injure the insect. Release it again as soon as possible.