Most people know I swim every day and there are lots of insects that keep me company. The pesky ones like dive-bombing flies and mosquitoes I gladly swat, but there are also different species of beetles, ants, some spiders (which are not insects), various other flies, most of which I scoop out and deposit on the pool deck to be washed away into the dirt.
My favorite buddies, however, are the dragonflies. These magical creatures come in a wide variety of iridescent colors with gossamer wings. They alight for a fraction of a second on the pool surface to get water, then flit off. Occasionally they hover in front of my face, and one day a brilliant turquoise specimen landed on my visor and sat there for a while, to the delight of my daughter.
Occasionally they get trapped in the water and end up upside down, fluttering helplessly. It is my honor to pick them up on my palm, flip them over and watch them fly away.
Blue Dasher dragonfly
Common Green Darner dragonfly
Eastern Pond Hawk dragonfly, male
Eastern Pond Hawk dragonfly, female
Ebony Jewel Wing dragonfly
Widow Skimmer dragonfly
Here are some dragonfly facts from the Smithsonian:
1. Long before the dinosaurs walked the Earth, dragonflies took to the air. Griffenflies, the gigantic precursor of present day dragonflies, had a wing tip to wing tip span of 28 inches, and took flight in the Carboniferous period, 300 million years ago.
|Woman holding a life-size model of a Griffenfly, from Don Chure’s Land of the Dead|
2. There are 5,000 + species of dragonflies.
3. In their larval stage, which can last up to two years, dragonflies are aquatic and eat just about anything—tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, other insect larvae and even each other.
4. Dragonflies are expert fliers. They can fly straight up and down, hover like a helicopter and even mate mid-air. If they can’t fly, they’ll starve because they only eat prey they catch while flying.
5. Dragonflies catch their insect prey by grabbing it with their feet.
6. Nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.
6. Dragonflies, which eat insects as adults, are a great control on the mosquito population. A single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.
Next time you see a dragonfly, say hi for me!