Dragonflies are complicated. They look so delicate yet they are tough survivors. They’ve been around for about 300 million years but except for a decrease in size look pretty much the same. They seem ethereal but are predators, on the prowl for feed since the day they are born. Ever try to catch one? They are fast insects. Their wings can go at 30 beats per minute! Their four wings go in all directions independently so they can go up, down, backwards, and sideways. They can even hover like a helicopter. They have incredible compound eyes that enable them to see 360 degrees – there is no sneaking up on them.
Dragonflies inspired myths in many cultures. Although they are harmless to humans, some people believed that they sting. They were sometimes called “darning needles” for fear that if a person slept outside the insect would sew up the person’s eyes. They also inspired art, poetry, and symbolism. Perhaps because of their swiftness they are often considered the harbingers of change. Since they breed near or on water, they have been associated with being a symbol of water purity.
I delight in their beauty and marvel at their versatility. But I would welcome their presence in my backyard for a simple reason; my yard has become a mosquito haven. They are out at all times of the day despite the fact that they breed in water and we are having drought conditions. Dragonflies eat mosquitoes. They could have a feast if they came to my house. And, I admit it, my eyes would feast on the beauty of these complicated insects.