They come not only in red, fuchsia, orange, pink, blue, gold, saffron, black, emerald, maroon, earth tones, and more,
but also in metallic colors. Some have colored, spotted or banded wings; others may have clear wings but clubbed abdomens
or a spike on their tail. And, no, they do not sting or bite. They have mouths that they do use to bite their prey (mostly
mosquitoes and gnats) but they do not bite people unless caught and handled roughly, and even then it's akin to getting a
good pinch. They have no stingers: the projections on the end of their abdomens are their claspers, used by the male to hold
the female in their unique 'wheel' mating position.
All you really need in order to be a dragonfly watcher are you eyes. However optional items would include
shoes that can get wet, an insect net, a 10-20X magnifying hand lens, zip-lock baggies/glassine envelopes, a good
guide and plenty of sunscreen. If you don't own close-focus binoculars, then a camera with a zoom lens can also be helpful:
often regular ‘birding’ binoculars won't focus in close enough while a camera will. You can click for a
picture, or just use the camera for viewing. Some dragonflies need to be caught and held to learn their identifications, thus
the net and zip-lock/glassine baggies. Dragonflies and damselflies can be held by their strong wings; folding the wings above
their abdomens. Observe them thus in hand or temporarily placed in the baggies, viewing their markings before releasing them.
But it is also enjoyable just to watch their amazing aerial antics.
By Ashley M. Randall