By Alison Campbell 12/02/2016 3


No, it’s one of New Zealand’s big dragonflies, most probably the bush dragonfly Uropetala carovei, and colloquially known as the “Devil’s darning needle” (presumably because of their colour & size).

And indeed, they are large creatures, as you’ll see from the photos. The adult dragonfly is the biggest dragonfly in NZ at nearly 90mm long, and with wings spanning up to 130mm. This one is a male – you can tell (if you get to watch one closely) by the appendages at the tip of its abdomen.

I think he’d flown into one of the windows at work, for when we found him, he was just sitting on the road just outside & likely to be squashed by the next car to come along. When I first went to pick the big insect up up, it flapped around a bit and landed on my friend’s leg (she was somewhat uncertain about this!), but eventually we shifted it onto a hebe bush away from the paths & road.

The only other specimens I’ve been able to observe so closely are dead & mounted in zoological collections, so it was quite something to see and (briefly) handle the living animal, and to observe its enormous eyes and powerful thorax & wings.

They really are great, beautiful beasts 🙂


3 Responses to “Is it a drone? Is it a giant mozzie?”

  • I saw one in the same place on a couple of occasions last week. First noticed its shadow on the ground, which is pretty alarming when it’s an insect! Astonishing creatures. Second day it let me get really close for some great pictures.

  • As a schoolboy in matamata I frequently recall no one believing that I was accosted by small helicopters. Finally I get vindication.