Dragonflies are fast flyers and the fastest is Austrophlebia costali that can swoop downhill at 98 km/h, but more usually dashes about its territory at about 58 km/h.
Dragonflies flap their wings relatively slowly, at about 30 beats per second (compared with a honey bee at 300 b/s). Their body temperature varies with the air temperature. If their muscles are cold they are unable to fly, so they need to warm up first by basking in the sun or shivering their muscles.
The dragonfly's huge bulging eyes cover more or less its entire head. Thanks to these the dragonfly can see nearly all the way round, scanning for prey while keeping a watch for hungry birds that may be interested in a meal themselves.
Its compound eyes are composed of more than 20 000 tiny six-sided facets each with its own tiny lens. The dragonfly can detect even the slightest possible movement.
Amongst Native Americans, it is a sign of happiness, speed and purity.
The Welsh call the dragonfly "the snake’s servant" and think they follow snakes and stitch up their wounds. And in Portugal they are called "eye pokers" and "eye snatchers".
To the Japanese, it symbolizes summer and autumn and is admired and respected all over. Tthe Samurai used it as a symbol of power, agility and victory.
Some Japanese poetry about dragonflies.
The beginning of autumn,
By the red dragon-fly.
Bright red pepper-pod . . .
it needs but shiny
wings and look . . .
It tried in vain to settle
On a blade of grass.
Perches on the stick
That strikes at him.
The instant it flies up
loses its shadow