HOW TO GROW TULIPS




When it come to tulips most people will naturally think of the famous tulip fields of Holland. But you may be surprised to find out that Tulips are not a native plant to the Netherlands, in fact, they are not even close!

The story of the tulip began over a thousand years ago, when Turkish entrepreneurs had begun cultivating the wild tulips that grew in the Persian region, and traded them throughout the Ottoman Empire.

So how is it then, that although originating from a hot, dry mountainous environment, tulips manage to thrive in Holland.

At a first glance the Dutch landscape seems at odds with such an environmentally specific crop - especially with its almost uniquely characteristic landscape.

The Dutch terrain is at and - in many areas - below sea level, it’s extremely flat and the winters are particularly wet. But the reason why tulips do so well in Holland is because of their land reclamation policy. By introducing an effective drainage system based on the Archimedes screw and powered by windmills, they inadvertently created a soil that kept the bulbs in an almost perfect and constant environment.

Tulip cultivation

So we know that Tulips are native to mountainous areas with temperate climates, however what is often overlooked is their need for a period of cool dormancy -  known as vernalization. Therefore while tulips will happily thrive in climates with long, cool springs, and dry summers.

Tulip bulbs are often imported to warm-winter areas of the world from cold-winter areas, but they are planted in the autumn to be treated as annuals. You can get round this by lifting the bulbs once the leaves begin to die back so that they can be dried out over the winter period.

Tulip bulbs are typically planted around November - but this can be as late as January - into well-drained soils. The depth is normally 4 to 8 inches deep depending on the type planted. Do not plant tulips deeper than 6 inches deep in heavy soil.

In those parts of the world that do not have long cool springs and dry summers, the tulip bulb can be planted up to 12 inches deep. This extra depth will provides some insulation from the heat of summer, and tends to encourage the plants to regenerate one large, floriferous bulb each year, instead of many smaller, non-blooming ones. This can also extend the life of a tulip plant in warmer-winter areas by a few years, but it does not stave off both the degradation in bulb size and the eventual death of the plant due to the lack of vernalization.

Tulips thrive on alkaline soil so you have acidic soil apply 3-4 oz of of ground limestone per square yard before planting.

Dead-head your tulips once the first petals begin to fall., leaving the stems and leaves to feed the bulbs as they die back. Remember to remove fallen petals as these can harbour disease.

Ideally, lift the bulbs once the leaves begin to turn yellow but if the beds are required for summer bedding displays then the tulips can be lifted earlier and replanted in rows elsewhere and lifted again after the leaves have died down.

Once lifted, plant the bulbs in shallow boxes and store in a dry shed or greenhouse. The leaves can be removes once the they and the stems become dry and brittle, together with the roots, old scales and any remaining soil.

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THE EIFFEL TOWER



The Eiffel Tower is one of the most - if not 'the' most iconic symbol in Paris, and probably the whole of France. However, it attracted an enormous amount of criticism when it first broke the skyline in 1889 as part of the Universal Exhibition in Paris, but fortunately its graceful symmetry soon made it a star attraction.

During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. Furthermore, it is still the tallest structure in Paris as well as the most-visited paid monument in the world.

Despite its delicate appearance, it weighs 10,100 metric tons and engineer Gustave Eiffel's construction was so sound that the tower never sways more than 3.5 inches in strong winds!

You may be surprised to know that Gustave Eiffel only had a permit for his tower to stand for 20 years. In fact it was going to be dismantled in 1909 when its ownership reverted back to the City of Paris. The City had planned to tear it down because part of the original contest rules for designing a tower was that it could be easily demolished.

Luckily, the tower proved valuable for communication purposes, and so it was allowed to remain after the expiry of the permit. In the opening weeks of the First World War, powerful radio transmitters were fitted to the tower in order to jam German communications. This seriously hindered their advance on Paris, and contributed to the Allied victory at the First Battle of the Marne.

Eiffel Tower facts

1. The puddled iron structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes, while the entire structure, including non-metal components, is approximately 10,000 tonnes.

As a demonstration of the economy of design, if the 7,300 tonnes of the metal structure were melted down it would fill the 125-metre-square base to a depth of only 6 cm, assuming the density of the metal to be 7.8 tonnes per cubic metre.

2. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm  because of thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun.

3. At the time the tower was built many people were shocked by its daring shape. Eiffel was criticised for the design and accused of trying to create something artistic, or inartistic according to the viewer, without regard to engineering.  As experienced bridge builders, Eiffel and his engineers understood the importance of wind forces and knew that if they were going to build the tallest structure in the world they had to be certain it would withstand the wind.

Gustave Eiffel
In an interview reported in the newspaper Le Temps, Eiffel said:
"Now to what phenomenon did I give primary concern in designing the Tower? It was wind resistance. Well then! I hold that the curvature of the monument's four outer edges, which is as mathematical calculation dictated it should be […] will give a great impression of strength and beauty, for it will reveal to the eyes of the observer the boldness of the design as a whole."
As a demonstration of the tower's effectiveness in wind resistance, it sways only 6–7 cm (2–3 in) in the wind.

4. When built, the first level contained two restaurants: an "Anglo-American Bar", and a 250 seat theatre. A 2.6 m promenade ran around the outside. On the second level, the French newspaper Le Figaro had an office and a printing press, where a special souvenir edition, Le Figaro de la Tour, was produced. There was also a pâtisserie.

On the third level were laboratories for various experiments and a small apartment reserved for Gustave Eiffel to entertain guests. This is now open to the public, complete with period decorations and lifelike models of Gustave and some guests.

5.  Gustave Eiffel engraved on the tower seventy-two names of French scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in recognition of their contributions. This engraving was painted over at the beginning of the twentieth century but restored in 1986–1987 by the Société Nouvelle d'exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, a company contracted to operate business related to the Tower.

6. Maintenance of the tower includes applying 50 to 60 tonnes of paint every seven years to protect it from rust. The height of the Eiffel Tower varies by 15 cm due to temperature.

7. In order to enhance the impression of height, three separate colours of paint are used on the tower, with the darkest on the bottom and the lightest at the top. On occasion the colour of the paint is changed and the tower is currently painted a shade of bronze. On the first floor there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the colour to use for a future session of painting.

8. The only non-structural elements in the whole design of the tower are the four decorative grill-work arches, added in Stephen Sauvestre's sketches, which served to reassure visitors that the structure was safe, and to frame views of other nearby architecture.

9. One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes the tower. In reality, since zoning restrictions limit the height of most buildings in Paris to 7 storeys, only a very few of the taller buildings have a clear view of the tower.

10. Eiffel's drawings were so precise, giving details for more than 18,000 metal parts, that the tower was erected in just a little more than two years. An astounding 2.5 million rivets hold the parts together.

11. The Eiffel Towers has recently been declared the most valuable monument in Europe - worth 435 billion euros (£343 billion) to the French economy. This equates to six times its nearest rival, the Colosseum in Rome, valued at 91 billion euros.

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Based on an article from http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/eiffel-tower-landmark.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eiffel_Tower
Images care of http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/eiffel-tower-landmark.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eiffel_tower_at_Exposition_Universelle,_Paris,_1889.jpg and http://www.urbanicablog.com/?p=1895 and http://www.spike.com/articles/ps4333/seven-historic-nerds-who-were-also-historic-players and http://flybee.com/paris/top-attractions/ and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9492500/Eiffel-Tower-worth-344-billion-to-French-economy-or-six-Towers-of-London.html

HOW TO GROW LAVENDER FROM SEED





Lavender is without doubt one of the most popular of all hardy shrubs, and why not? Tolerant of drought, heat, poor soils and most pests and diseases, not only does will lavender flower its heart out, it is a fantastic source of nectar for pollinating insects!

However, purchasing lavender plants can end up being expensive. But fear not! Lavenders are very easy to propagate. Both from cuttings and from seed.

Growing lavender from seed

Lavender can be sow at any time of year so long as you have the use of a propagator. Otherwise, sow lavender seed from April onwards making sure that they are kept in a warm place to maintain an optimum temperature of 15-18 degrees Celsius.

To begin with, lavender seed can be sown in trays, pots or modular trays. Choose a good quality seed compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting', but you may wish to mix in some horticultural grit or perlite to improve the drainage further.


Moisten the soil until it is damp, not wet, and then place the seeds one at a time on the surface. Now give the seeds with a light sprinkling of compost, making sure that all the seeds are covered. Remember not to pack the soil down on top of the seed.

Once the seeds are sown it is essential that they are kept moist. Striking the balance right between over watering the seedlings and under watering will make all the difference to the success of your plantings. Using a spray bottle is the best way to achieve the right balance.


After sowing, either place into a propagator kept at 15-18 Celsius or seal your pots/trays  in a polythene bag and leave at also at 15-18 Celsius. Keep them in a bright position, but out of direct sun during the hottest part of the day.

It can take from between twelve and twenty-one days for germination to occur, but if nothing has happened after three weeks then place the seeds back into a refrigerator - not the freezer, for a further 3-6 weeks.

After this cold period is completed they can be placed back into their warm, light environment the recommended germination temperature. However, examine regularly whilst in the fridge and remove immediately the seeds show signs of germinating.

When the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them into 3 inch pots using John Innes 'No 2' compost. Use a dibber and avoid disrupting the root system as much as possible. Grow on in a cold frame and plant outside in to their final position the following spring.

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WHAT IS LAVENDER OIL?




Lavender oil is an substance that has been manufactured which has long been used in ancient medicines. Produced and stored in tiny glands at the base of each floret, lavender oil is an essential oil obtained by the relatively simple process of steam distillation.

Today, lavender oil is still used in the production of perfume, and for the practice of aromatherapy. The scent alone has a calming effect which may aid in relaxation and the reduction of anxiety and stress. In fact, the name lavender come from the Latin word 'Lavare' which means 'to wash', due to its 'cleansing' aroma.

Furthermore, a couple of drops of lavender oil on your pillow can help to induce sleep if you are experiencing problems 'dropping off'.

Over the centuries, lavender oil has been used to treat a variety of common ailments, such as sunburn and sunstroke. It can also be used in massage oil mixtures, which may be effective in the relief of joint and muscle pain, or even in chest rub mixtures for the relief of asthmatic and bronchitic spasm. It is also said to treat head lice when used in a hair rinse mixture, or on a fine comb to eliminate nits.

One study suggests application of lavender essential oil instead of povidone-iodine for episiotomy wound care.

The benefits of lavender oil 

Nervous System: Lavender essential oil has a calming scent which makes it an excellent tonic for the nerves. Therefore, it helps in treating migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, nervous tension and emotional stress. The refreshing aroma removes nervous exhaustion and restlessness and increases mental activity.

Sleep: Lavender essential oil induces sleep and hence it is often recommended for insomnia.

Pain Relief: Lavender essential oil is also an excellent remedy for various types of pains including those caused by sore muscles, tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backache and lumbago. A regular massage with lavender oil provides relief from pain in the joints.

Urine Flow: Lavender essential oil is good for urinary disorders as it stimulates urine production. It helps in restoring hormonal balance and reduces cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder. It also reduces any associated cramps.

Respiratory Disorders: Lavender oil is extensively used for various respiratory problems including throat infections, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. The oil is either used in the form of vapour or applied on the skin of neck, chest and back. It is also added in many vaporizers and inhalers used for cold and coughs.

Blood Circulation: Lavender essential oil is also good for improving blood circulation in the body. It also lowers blood pressure and is used for hypertension.

Digestion: Lavender oil is useful for digestion as it increases the mobility of the intestine. The oil also stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile and thus aids in treating indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Immunity: Regular use of lavender essential oil provides resistance to diseases.

Skin Care: The health benefits of lavender oil for the skin can be attributed to its antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It is used to treat various skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammations. It heals wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns rapidly as it aids in the formation of scar tissues. Lavender oil is added to chamomile to treat eczema.

Hair Care: Lavender essential oil is useful for the hair care as it can be very effective on lice and lice eggs or nits.

Other health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to treat leucorrhoea. It is also effective against insect bites. The oil is also used to repel mosquitoes and moths. You will find many mosquito repellents containing lavender oil as one of the ingredients.

As with many other essential oils, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using lavender essential oil. It is also recommended that diabetics stay away from lavender oil. It may also cause allergic reactions to people having sensitive skin. Some people may also experience nausea, vomiting and headaches due to usage of lavender oil. 

Also, be aware though that according to a 2005 study "although it was recently reported that lavender oil, and its major constituent linalyl acetate, are toxic to human skin cells in vitro. Contact dermatitis to lavender oil appears to occur at only a very low frequency.

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HOW TO GROW BOUGAINVILLEA






Any country that has anything warmer that even a mild Mediterranean climate will be able to grow the fantastic Bougainvillea. And even in colder regions they can be successfully grown as a house plant.

What appear to be brilliantly coloured flowers are in fact papery bracts. The true flowers are almost insignificant, generally white, and in a cluster of three, but this doesn't matter as the bracts are so bright and persistent that they out-last and out-perform most other flowering plants - let alone other climbers!

What is a Bougainvillea?

Bougainvillea are a genus of flowering plants native to South America from Brazil west to Perú and south to southern Argentina (Chubut Province).

They are thorny, woody vines that will growing anywhere from 3 ft to 40 ft tall, and use their thorns to scrambling over other plants in order to reach the strongest sunlight. The thorns are sometimes strangely tipped with a black, waxy substance.

They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or deciduous if there is a dry season. The Bougainvillea also makes an excellent hot season plant, and its drought tolerance makes it ideal for warm climates year-round. Its high salt tolerance makes it a natural choice for colour in coastal regions

Bougainvillea are relatively pest-free plants, but may suffer from worms, snails and aphids. The larvae of some Lepidoptera species also use them as food plants.

How to grow Bougainvillea

Bougainvilleas grow best in dry soil, in very bright full sun, and with frequent fertilization.  Before planting, dig in plenty of organic matter.

When choosing an area to plant your bougainvillea, remember that higher ground is best as water will drain away from the roots.

They require little water once established, and in fact will not do well at all if over-watered.

Watering

Be aware that the amount of watering needed to keep bougainvillea in tip-top condition is going to be directly related to the climate, soil type, plant size and weather conditions.  Bougainvillea are drought-tolerant plants, and require very little water once established.

As a rule of thumb, bring the soil to visual dryness between watering.

You might be surprised to know that wilting is the best indicator that watering is needed, but don't leave you bougainvillea in that condition for too long.

If you let your bougainvillea get bone-dry it will cause bracts and foliage to drop.

When it is time to water, do so thoroughly – making sure that every inch of the root system gets watered.

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WHAT IS A YUCCA?






Yuccas have been grown as popular house and garden plants for may years now. Easy to grow, they are pest and disease resistant and able to cope with a reasonable amount of neglect. This of course almost makes for the perfect plant - apart from the spikes!

There is a popular, but erroneous belief that Yuccas only flower every seven years, and then die after flowers. This is not true.

Of course, there is more than one species of Yucca and species that are generally available from your local plant retailer can range from fully cold hardy Yucca filamentosa to the tropical Yucca elephantipes. Get them mixed up and you could end up with an expensive and 'melted' plant display.

What is a Yucca?

Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees from the family Asparagaceae - subfamily Agavoideae. There are 49 species in this family, and they are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves, and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers.

The hardy species need sunny, sheltered sites, and make good specimen or accent plants.

The tender species are usually grown as foliage plants in the home or greenhouse.

They are native to the hot and dry regions of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.  It is known in the Midwest United States as 'ghosts in the graveyard', as it is commonly found growing in rural graveyards and when in bloom the flowers appear as floating apparitions.

Yuccas are not just grown for their ornamental appeal, they can also be grown as an edible crop because many species bear edible parts, including fruits, seeds, flowers, and flowering stems. Be that as it may, don't go around eating bits of yucca without knowing exactly what you are doing.

How to grow Yucca

The hardy species can be planted outside in April or October in any ordinary, well drained garden soil and preferably in a sheltered position that receives sunlight most of the day. they will even poor, sandy soils.

Tender species can be grown in 6 - 10 inch pots using a good quality compost such as John Innes No 2 or 3. Potting on to larger pots is normally done in spring or early summer. Maintain a minimum over-night temperature of 13-16 degrees Celsius. They can be placed in a sunny position but may need to protected from scorching during the hottest times of the year with some shading .


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Based on an article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca
Images care of http://davisla.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/plant-of-the-week-yucca-recurvifolia/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yucca_whipplei_flower.JPG and http://www.history.com/photos/new-mexico/photo1

WHO WAS KING CANUTE?






You have probably never heard of King Canute, unless of course you went to primary school in England. Be that as it may, King Canute was certainly one of England's greatest early kings, as well as having something to do with the tide!

King Canute of Bosham (Born circa AD 994 - died 12th November 1035) was the son of King Sweyn (Svein) Forkbeard of Denmark and the daughter of Mieszko I of Poland. His grandfather was Harold Bluetooth - a very cool name, so long as his teeth weren't actually blue, and his great-grandfather was King Gormot - not so cool. At the height of his reign King Canute was ruler of an empire that included England, Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden.

King Canute and the waves

Canute commanding the waves
King Canute is best remembered for the story of how in Bosham - a small coastal village and civil parish in the Chichester District of West Sussex,he commanded the waves to go back out to sea. According to oral tradition, he grew tired of flattery by the locals.

"You are the greatest man that ever lived," one would say. "O king, there can never be another as mighty as you," another would say. "Great Canute, you are the monarch of all, nothing in this world would dare to disobey you."

When one such flatterer said the king could command the obedience of the sea, and so the King proved him wrong by practical demonstration on the foreshore.

"Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings. For there is none worthy of the name but God, whom heaven, earth and sea obey". So spoke the King, seated on his throne with the waves lapping around his feet. "Go back, sea!"

He commanded time and again, but the tide continued as expected. Canute put it to his courtiers that the sea was not obeying him and insisted they stay there until they admitted it.

The rise of Canute

In August 1013 he accompanied his father as a young Viking warrior on their invasion of England. He was initially put in charge of the Danish army at Gainsborough and, on the death of his father the following February, the Danes proclaimed him king. However, the body of ruling magnates refused to accept him and voted instead for Ethelred the Unready who at that time was in exile in Normandy. Ethelred raised an army, defeated Canute and forced him to sail back to Denmark with what remained of his own defeated army.

Canute and Edmond Ironside
Meanwhile back in Denmark Canute’s older brother Harold had become King of Denmark. Canute had suggested that the two brothers should jointly rule the Kingdom. However, Harold didn't like the idea and instead promised to support him in a conquest of England if he would renounce his rights to the Danish throne.

Canute returned to England in the summer of 1015 with a Danish force of approximately 10,000 men. They landed in Bosham and executed Earl Uhtred for breaking an oath pledged to Canute's father two years earlier. In April 1016, Canute took his fleet up the Thames and besieged London. King Ethelred died during the siege, and his son Edmund Ironside was proclaimed king.

When Edmund left London to raise an army in the countryside, he was intercepted by Canute at Ashingdon, Essex. After a decisive victory, meeting on an island in the Severn River, Canute and Edmund agreed to divide the kingdom, but Edmund died suddenly, leaving Canute as sole ruler.

At first, Canute used harsh measures to reinforce his authority. He had prominent English rivals outlawed or killed, engineered the death of Edmund Ironside's brother, and pursued Edmund's children until they fled to safety in Hungary. However, within a few years he evolved a more even-handed policy, and allowed more Englishmen into positions of power. His reign proved stable, peaceful and prosperous, and the power base he developed in England helped him pursue claims in Denmark and Norway.

Coin of Canute the Great
Canute reinstated the laws passed under King Edgar, reformed the existing laws and initiated a new series of laws and proclamations. Two significant ones were On Heriots and Reliefs, and Inheritance in Case of Intestacy. He strengthened the coinage system, and initiated a series of new coins which would be of equal weight as those being used in Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia. This greatly improved the trade of England, whose economy was in turmoil following years of social disorder. In part this success was what lead many to praise him so highly.

In order to associate his line with the overthrown English dynasty and to insure himself against attack from Normandy where Ethelred's sons Edward the Confessor and Alfred Atheling were in exile, Canute married Ethelred's widow Emma of Normandy, daughter of Richard the Fearless, Duke of Normandy in July 1017. He proclaimed their son Harthacanute as heir in preference to Harold, his illegitimate son by Aelgifu of Northampton.

By dividing the country into four great earldoms; Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia and Northumbria, he instituted the system of territorial lordships which would underlie English government for centuries. The very last Danegeld ever paid (a tax raised to pay tribute to Viking raiders to save England from being ravaged), a sum of £82,500, went to Canute in 1018. He then felt secure enough to send the invasion fleet back to Denmark with £72,000 that same year.

The good King

He repaired the churches and monasteries that were looted by his army and he constructed new ones.

He also became a big patron of the monastic reform, which was popular among the ecclesiastical and secular population. The most generous contribution he is remembered for is the impressive gifts and relics that he bestowed upon the English Church.

Canute’s pilgrimage to Rome in 1027 was another sign of his devotion to the Christian faith. It is still debated whether he went to repent his sins, or to attend Emperor Conrad II’s coronation in order to improve relations between the two powers.

While in Rome, Canute obtained the agreement from the Pope to reduce the fees paid by the English archbishops to receive their pallium.

He also arranged with other Christian leaders that the English pilgrims should pay reduced or no toll tax on their way, and that they would be safeguarded on their way to Rome.

In 1028, Canute conquered Norway with a fleet of fifty ships from England. At an assembly at Trondheim, he was officially crowned King. His new title was

'King of all England and of Denmark, Norway and part of Sweden'. 

King Canute's Mortuary Chest
His attempt to govern Norway through Aelgifu (his concubine) and his other son by her, Sweyn, ended in rebellion and the restoration of the former Norwegian dynasty under Magnus I.

Canute died on the 12th November 1035, at Shaftesbury in Dorset, and was buried in the Old Minster in Winchester.

On his death, Canute was succeeded in Denmark by Harthacanute, reigning as Canute III.

Harold took power in England, however, ruling until his death (1040), whereupon the two crowns were again briefly reunited under Harthacanute.

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Based on an article from http://www.bosham.org/chichester/about-bosham-king-canute-c-3_38.html
Images care of http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34083/34083-h/34083-h.htm and http://www.flickr.com/photos/fortescue38/sets/72157630058272050/detail/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cnut_the_Great and http://www.robertsewell.ca/england.html and http://mercedesrochelle.com/wordpress/?cat=6

WHAT IS A DRAGONFLY?




A dragonfly is a flying insect characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body. Like any other insect, dragonflies also possess six legs, but most species are unable to walk on them with any competence.

Dragonflies are among the fastest flying insects in the world. In fact, Robert John Tillyard FRS (31 January 1881 – 13 January 1937) - an English/Australian entomologist and geologist, claimed to have recorded the Southern Giant Darner flying at nearly 60 miles per hour in a rough field measurement.

However, large dragonflies - like the hawkers - have been reliably measured at a maximum speed of 22–34 mph, with average cruising speed of about 10 mph.

What do dragonflies eat?

Dragonflies are important predators that eat predominately small insects such as mosquitoes, flies, bees, ants, wasps, and very rarely butterflies. They are usually found around marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because their larvae, known as 'nymphs', are aquatic. They are an almost global predator with some 5680 different species known in the world today.

Though dragonflies are predators, they themselves are subject to predation by birds, lizards, frogs, spiders, fish, water bugs, and even larger dragonfly species.

Dragonfly life-cycle 

Female dragonflies lay eggs in or near water, often on floating or emergent plants. When laying eggs, some species will submerge themselves completely in order to lay their eggs on a good surface. The eggs then hatch into nymphs. Most of a dragonfly's life is spent underwater in the nymph form,  using extendible jaws to catch other invertebrates - often mosquito larvae, and even larger prey such as tadpoles and fish.

They breathe through gills in their rectum, and can rapidly propel themselves by suddenly expelling water through the anus - lovely! Some nymphs even hunt on land, an aptitude that could easily have been more common in ancient times when terrestrial predators were clumsier.

The larval stage of large dragonflies may last as long as five years. In smaller species, this stage can last anywhere between two months and three years.

When the larva is ready to metamorphose into an adult, it will climb up a reed or other emergent plant. Exposure to air causes the larva to begin breathing. The skin splits at a weak spot behind the head and the adult dragonfly crawls out of its larval skin, pumps up its wings, and flies off to feed on midges and flies.

In flight the adult dragonfly can propel itself in six directions; upward, downward, forward, back, and side to side. The adult stage of larger species of dragonfly can last as long as five or six months.

Dragonflies can sometimes be mistaken for damselflies, which are morphologically similar; however, adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to the body when at rest.


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Based on an article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly
Images care of http://www.yourgardenbag.com/2011/04/01/dragonflies/ and http://qvcproject.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/magnificent-giant-and-unfortunately.html and http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16410/16410-h/16410-h.htm