Close-up of a dragonfly wing
© Azwar Thaufeeq/500px/Getty Image
The globe skimmers return. The globe skimmers return
This time of year, millions of dragonflies are returning to the Maldives, a stage in the longest insect migration in the world. Flying thousands of miles across the open ocean, these dragonflies are known as globe skimmers, which refers to their migratory behavior. Until about 20 years ago, no one knew where they came from. But researchers have since discovered that the dragonflies take advantage of moving weather systems and monsoon rains to make their epic migration across the Arabian Sea from India. From the Maldives, the dragonflies will continue their journey, passing through the Seychelles and then on to East Africa.
Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, around 300 million years ago–fossils show they boasted wingspans of up to 2 feet. Today there are more than 3,000 known species of dragonflies. Nicknamed the 'devil's darning needle,' dragonflies can fly straight up and down, hover like a helicopter, and even mate mid-air. And if they can't fly, they'll starve because they only eat prey they catch while flying.