While walking home today I happened to run across this fellow sitting on a fence.
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I naturally decided to pick it up and take it home for an exclusive photoshoot on the palm of my hand.
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As you can see this is a pretty big insect, with a wingspan of around 4" and a body length of around 3". This is actually a pretty rare find as you don't commonly see these animals in the suburbs around New Zealand too often, despite the fact it's actually a native species. This specimen is a giant dragonfly (Uropetala carovei), which are sometimes called the "devils threading needle" due to their long elongated body. Like other Dragonflies, the larval form of this insect spends its time underground in burrows where it consumes a variety of insects. Once they become adults they are equally as aggressive, usually plucking other flying insects out of the air. To accomplish this they are remarkable fliers, capable of hovering and turning on the spot in mid air. Adding to this is their rather impressive speed, up to around 40kmph at cruising speed and reportedly up to 58kmph if they really get going.
It was just slightly unfortunate that this guy seemed somewhat addled when I picked him up and didn't seem coordinated in flight. I think that's because it was struck by a car and was just recovering when I came across it. None the less, it's now quite safe and is recovering nicely on a shaded branch in my backyard. Quite a pleasant encounter.