Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dragonflies by Pieter van Dokkum

Stunning photographs illustrate the life cycle of dragonflies and the denizens of the author's favorite pond. This is not a field guide but rather a visual celebration of beautiful insects too often ignored in favor of butterflies. The brief text explains that dragonflies are harmless to humans and beneficial in the insects they consume.

Dragonflies are ancient lineage that has been flying for 300 million years. Their nymphs are ferocious underwater predators. The author has photographed the vulnerable moment when the nymph climbs out of the water on a stalk of vegetation and gradually emerges from the shell of its former existence. Once its wings have expanded the dragonfly resumes hunting, now in the air.

But the important act of adulthood is ensuring the next generation. The photos of mating dragonflies show their peculiar circular embrace, heart-shaped for damselflies, that often enables the insects to keep flying.

Dragonflies will encourage you to appreciate the beauty and benefits of these lovely insects. For more beautiful insect photographs, Butterflies: a Complete Guide to Their Biology and Behavior by Dick Vane-Wright draws upon the entire world.

Review by Carolyn Caywood, retired from VBPL

No comments: