They look large, strange and possibly alarming, but New Zealand's bush giant dragonflies are harmless to humans and relatively common.

They are also known as Carove's giant dragonfly or kapokapowai in Maori, and have the scientific name Uropetala carovei.

Most dragonfly nymphs live in rivers and streams, but according to internet sources, these ones don't. They can grow to 3cm in size and live in burrows in damp ground. They spend most of their time underground in a chamber half filled with water, coming up to the entrance at night to catch their prey. They spend about five years in this stage, and are shy and rarely seen.

The adults are much more visible, and are the largest dragonflies in New Zealand. Their yellow and black bodies can be as much as 9cm long, and wingspans 13cm across. They are slow and noisy flyers.


Their eyes are made up of thousands of facets, and give them a wide range of vision.

The adult dragonflies chase and feed on small insects, including cicadas, on the wing. They are in turn preyed on by rats, kingfishers and even wasps.

This dragonfly is only found in New Zealand, in the North Island and parts of the South Island. It is not common, but widespread.

A closely related species is mainly found in the South Island mountains.

Nature Watch

Thanks to Castlecliff resident Lynne Douglas for this sight of summer (pictured above.)

Nature Watch is a Wednesday feature of the Wanganui Chronicle's outdoor section. It aims to note the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the region, through its plants and animals, as the seasons pass.

Do you have a favourite sight, sound or smell of summer? Tell me about it. Ring 06 349 0710 ext 50833, email or write to Laurel Stowell, Wanganui Chronicle, PO Box 433, Wanganui.