“Today I saw the dragonfly come from the wells where he did lie.”
(from “The Dragonfly” by Alfred Lord Tennyson)
Dragonflies are members of the Odonata family of insects (the only other member being the damselfly). They have been around since prehistoric times, even before dinosaurs! Technically, “griffinflies” (which eventually evolved into dragonflies) were around during the Paleozoic period, while the dinosaurs actually came later, during the Mesozoic era. The main difference between griffinflies and what we know today as dragonflies is their size: griffinflies were gigantic! Think of the old Godzilla movies with the enormous Mothra! Today, there are thousands of dragonfly species.
What makes dragonflies so beautiful and unique?
- Their long bodies are supported by transparent wings as delicate as tissue paper.
- Their amazing colors—translucent greens and blues—that hover just above the water’s surface and, in an instant, are gone.
- Dragonflies—known for their expert fast flying—cannot thrive unless they are flying (they mate, hunt and feed—on mosquitoes—in the air). Engineers and scientists are known for studying the movement of dragonflies to gain insight into hovering and flying.
- A dragonfly’s eyes make up most of its head; this means they have extraordinary vision!
“Deep in the sun searched growths, the dragonfly hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky.” –Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dragonflies are, to many, sacred symbols and totems. Spirit animals, if you will. Dragonflies are most plentiful near bodies of water, so this goes to reason that because they are associated with water, they represent a source of life and abundance. Dragonflies actually tend to attract to shallow, freshwater areas such as ponds. Watching a dragonfly light on water, causing a gentle ripple, is one of Mother Nature’s most splendid sights. Some even believe that dragonflies are spirits of their ancestors.
Dragonfly or Damselfly?
If you like studying insects, you should look into entomology. So, what’s the difference between a damselfly and a dragonfly? Damselflies are much smaller and their wings are markedly different, too: a damselfly has two wings, while dragonflies have four.
Many preserve these insects for study (as well as for their extraordinary beauty). This is known as insect taxidermy.
Dragonflies are found everywhere in the world except for Antarctica. They can usually be found near water, perched atop a cattail, or other colorful flowers. Of course, they prefer warm weather, so summer is their most populous season. Some of Spartan and the Green Egg’s explorer pins depict places where there are multitudes of dragonflies!
In Japan, they are known as the “victory insect” or “kachimushi”; dragonflies are actually the country’s national emblem. In Japanese culture, they are regarded as symbols of happiness, courage, and strength.
Tochigi Park “Several parks can be found in the Tochigi Prefecture, including the colorfully illuminated Ashikaga Flower Park. Tochigi is among the most visited destinations in Japan and is a landlocked area of the Kanto Region. Visitors can see colorful parks filled with Wisteria flowers, the famous Toshogu Shrine, and other amusement features the town has to offer.”
A park filled with flora is an ideal place for seeing dragonflies; they are usually attracted to flowers near water, such as lotus blossoms and water lilies.
Dragonflies are found all over Europe, but you’re more likely to spot them in Southern France (near the foot lands of the Alps) rather than the country’s north. This is very interesting because the “Art Nouveau” (“nouveau” is French for new) style is known for its unmistakable dragonfly imagery. The country’s largest wetland, Le Camargueis, is also one of our favorite destinations. The Camargue region is technically in Arles—known for its Roman amphitheater. Once a port city, it is now an area filled with salt marshes, brown bulls, white stallions, and pink flamingos. And, of course, being near marshes and shallow water, there are all sorts of different species of dragonflies and damselflies! Imagine seeing all of these incredible creatures together in one place! It has been said that when greeted by a group of dragonflies, this symbolizes change and that you’re ready for some type of transformation. Lots of dragonflies in a group are known as a “static swarm.”
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