Are dragonflies the fastest insect in the world?

Dragonflies are indeed one of the fastest insects in the world.

Evolution has been kind to these fascinating creatures and considering they have been around since long before dinosaurs walked the Earth; they have had many years to hone their aerial skills.

The unique positioning of their wings allow them to fly forwards, backwards, make last minute dramatic changes in direction, and even hover. Dragonflies are able to move each of their four wings independently, giving them complete control to fly in any way they would like. Some even refer to them as the helicopters of the insect world.

The larger species can fly at an incredible 40-48 kph (25-30 mph), but this is usually used when they’re in pursuit of prey or in danger and the average flight speed is around 16 kph (10 mph). Some have even been recorded travelling as fast as 40 mph.

While this is impressive top speed for an insect, dragonflies are not quite the fastest in the world. They are beaten only by one: the horse fly. It has been said that a male horse fly has been clocked at a whopping 145 kph (90 mph).

There may be other insects capable of speeds like the dragonfly and horsefly, but tracking a tiny insect at such velocity can be very difficult for scientists in the field. So to our current knowledge these are currently the fastest flying insects on Earth.


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Photograph: Joi Ito


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