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Dragonflies are often called birdwatchers' insects. They are large, brightly coloured, active in the daytime, and with complex and interesting behaviour. Like butterflies, they appeal even to people who don't think highly of insects in general. They have been with us since the dinosaurs lived, and they continue to flourish. Their ancestors were the biggest insects ever, and they still impress us with their size-the largest is bigger than a small hummingbird. There are over 6,000 species of Odonata known at present, and you need only to visit any wetland on a warm summer day to be enthralled by their bright colours and fascinating behaviour.
Dennis Paulson is an international expert on dragonflies, having written the major field guides to North American species and more than 50 scientific papers on the group. With a PhD degree from the University of Miami, he has watched and photographed his favourite animals on all the continents. Now retired from his position as Director of the Slater Museum of Natural History at the University of Puget Sound, he continues to spend his time in teaching and research.