An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Dragonfly Eyes

7-8-13 dragonfly eyes2 381Dragonflies (and bees) have the largest compound eyes of any insect, each containing up to 30,000 facets, or ommatidia (house flies have 6,000). Each facet points in a slightly different direction and creates its own image, and the dragonfly’s brain compiles these thousands of images into one picture. This eye structure enables dragonflies to be extremely sensitive to motion. Because a dragonfly’s eyes wrap around its head, it can see in all directions at the same time (though its forward-looking vision is the sharpest). When capturing prey, a dragonfly doesn’t chase it – it intercepts it in mid-air, and it’s successful nearly 95% of the time. This hunting technique entails calculating the distance of its prey, the direction it’s moving and the speed that it’s flying – an impressive feat any tennis, baseball or football player would especially appreciate!

(Photo is looking down on the eyes of a Common Green Darner. Three simple eyes, or ocelli, are located in the black section below (above in the photo) its two tan compound eyes. The short, thin black lines are its antennae, which can detect wind direction and speed. The yellow section is part of the upper half of its face, or frons.)

7 responses

  1. nangalland

    you gotta be kidding…..

    July 8, 2013 at 11:50 am

  2. Hi Nan, Humans don’t hold a candle next to other creatures, do they?

    July 8, 2013 at 11:53 am

  3. Cordelia Merritt

    Mary – This is just fascinating! Thank you so much. (Lordy, Lordy – seeing it and reading the description should make us humble about our own abilities.) Cordie

    July 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm

  4. Cordie, thanks so much for your faithful reading and commenting on my posts! You and people like you are what make me venture out in this soggy, tropical rain forest we currently have in Vermont!

    July 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm

  5. Mary, what a FASCINATING and BEAUTIFUL photo of that dragonfly! It’s a work of art, and deserves to be blown way up and framed! WOW!! Plus that info about its visual acuiy, of course. How did you ever take such a photo??

    July 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm

  6. Rita Pitkin

    This is incredible…I will never look at dragonflies the same way again….truth=stranger than fiction! Thanks Mary.

    July 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm

  7. Jean Harrison

    An amazing photo!

    July 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm

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