Dobsonflies are elongate insects found throughout North and Central America. Adults may attain lengths in excess of five inches, with wingspans approaching twice their body length.
Adult male dobsonflies use their mandibles, approaching 1 inch in length, to grasp females during copulation.
Female retain the short, powerful mandibles they possessed as larvae, sometimes inflicting painful bites that can draw blood.
Both genders utilize an irritating, foul-smelling anal spray as a last-ditch defense.
After several years the larvae crawl onto land to pupate. They remain in their cocoons over the winter, emerging from late spring into mid-summer, mating, depositing their eggs near the water (often on overhanging vegetation), and then die within a week of emergence from their pupal cocoons.