Dragonflies in springtime


Dragonflies.  It is the beginning of spring and dragonflies are starting to buzz about the waters at Fountain Rock Park & Nature Center.  There is something magical about children watching dragonflies near a pond. 

My interest in dragonflies goes back to when I was a small boy.   I recall seeing dragonflies when I was fishing as a child.  My Dad told me that it was a sign of good luck if a dragonfly would land on the end of my fishing pole.  When a dragonfly did land on my fishing pole, I would do everything possible not to move as much an inch so as not to scare off the dragonfly.  Accordingly, I have always thought of having good luck when I see a dragonfly.

What is a dragonfly anyway?  The word conjures up from my vivid imagination an image of a mythical dragon flying high in the sky.  The beginnings of a bedtime story perhaps.  But that is for another time and another place.

A dragonfly is neither a dragon nor a fly.  It is an insect.  Dragonflies have six legs, two rather large eyes for their size and wings.  Dragonflies fly very fast and are among the fastest flying insects in the world.  They can fly up to 10 miles per hour.

Dragonflies are predators.  A predator is something that hunts and feeds on other things.  In the case of the dragonfly – it hunts and eats mosquitoes (yea!), ants, bees, wasps and other small insects.  In turn, dragonflies are hunted and eaten by birds, frogs, spiders, fish and larger dragonflies.

Dragonflies usually live near water because their larve  (or younger version of themselves) live in water.  Also much of their food source lives near water.

Dragonflies are important as they help keep nature in balance by controlling the population of some insects such as mosquitoes and by being a food source for insects, spiders, frogs and birds.

The New York Times recently had an excellent article on dragonflies. The article can be found at this link:  www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/science/dragonflies-natures-deadly-drone-but-prettier.html?pagewanted=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130402&_r=1&

(photo of dragonfly used with permission under a creative commons license from wikipedia)

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