We attempted to hike at one of our favorite parks only to be deterred by the number of mosquitoes swarming us. Yes, it's been a rainy season and a few are always to be expected, but when your time in the woods is spent swatting bugs and not enjoying the scenery, greenery, and air around you, you have to ask is it worth it? For a day hike no.
So we moved on to a new area to explore.
We ended at a nature reserve I've always wanted to explore, so we park, get out, and no mosquitoes! But there was one big difference, there were dragonflies everywhere! After strolling about for a while getting my bearings with the area, I stopped to watch these awesome creatures. It doesn't take long for them to get comfortable with people, they'd land closer, then take off, then land a little closer, until they were so close I couldn't focus my camera on them anymore! What really struck me was how each of them had very unique personalities. The Eastern Pondhawks were the most playful and daring always trying to one up each other for the camera. The Halloween Pennant was modest but not nervous as I crept closer to snap a photo. The Widow Skimmer was a little more shy maintaining a safe distance. The Swamp Darner (not 100% on that classification) was the least afraid landing as close as a few inches from me!
These are some of the most interesting and helpful insects. (and no, they don't sting humans and will only bite if captured and their mouths can come in contact with skin, but rarely can they break skin)
Here are some fun facts from the Smithsonian about dragonflies.
* Some adult dragonflies live for only a few weeks while others live up to a year.
* Nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.
* 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.
* There are more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies, all of which (along with damselflies) belong to the order Odonata, which means “toothed one” in Greek and refers to the dragonfly’s serrated teeth.
* 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.
* At the end of its larval stage, the dragonfly crawls out of the water, then its exoskeleton cracks open and releases the insect’s abdomen, which had been packed in like a telescope. Its four wings come out, and they dry and harden over the next several hours to days.
* 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.
In symbolism the dragonfly is, brings, and represents many things...
* The power of light
* In China, people associate the dragonfly with prosperity, harmony and as a good luck charm.
* Amongst Native Americans, it is a sign of happiness, speed and purity.
* Maturity and a depth of character - symbolizing change in the perspective of self realization, the mental and emotional maturity to understand the deeper meaning of life.
* Power and poise
* Defeating self created illusions - allowing you to be the true you.
* Transition and transformation
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.