Little Red Dragonfly

October 3, 2009


Isn’t it beautiful? My son found him today. He was unmoving, but alive.

Click the next photo and “All Sizes” for a larger, spectacular view of the dragonfly. They are so lovely, so wonderfully made! I’ve never seen a red one before. I tried warming the critter by holding my warm mug of tea close to his body. He remained in my son’s hand. Finally, I told my son to place him in a sheltered spot in the garden.

Red dragonfly

Red dragonfly 2

Do dragonflies fly south for the winter? I don’t think so… chilly weather is here, so I suspect that the poor bug’s days are numbered. He was beautiful.

Dragonflies are good for the garden– they eat mosquitoes, flies, and ants. I looked up “dragonfly” at Wikipedia to learn a little more about them. This was interesting:

In Europe, dragonflies have often been seen as sinister. Some English vernacular names, such as “devil’s darning needle” and “ear cutter”, link them with evil or injury. A Romanian folk tale says that the dragonfly was once a horse possessed by the devil. Swedish folklore holds that the devil uses dragonflies to weigh people’s souls. Another Swedish legend holds that trolls use the dragonflies as spindles when weaving their clothes (hence the Swedish word for dragonfly trollslända, lit. “troll’s spindle”) as well as sending them to poke out the eyes of their enemies. The Norwegian name for dragonflies is “Øyenstikker”, which literally means Eye Poker and in Portugal they are sometimes called “Tira-olhos” (Eye snatcher).

They are often associated with snakes, as in the Welsh name gwas-y-neidr, “adder’s servant”. The Southern United States term “snake doctor” refers to a folk belief that dragonflies follow snakes around and stitch them back together if they are injured. The Lithuanian word “Laum žirgis” is a composite word meaning “the Lauma’s horse”, while in Dutch, Aeshna mixta is called “Paardenbijter” or “horse biter”. In some South American countries, dragonflies are also called matacaballo (horse killer), or caballito del diablo (devil’s little horse), since they were perceived as harmful, some species being quite large for an insect.

In East Asia and among Native Americans, dragonflies have a far better reputation, one that can also be said to have positively influenced modern day views about dragonflies in most countries, in the same vein as the insect’s namesake, the dragon, which has a positive image in the east,[citation needed] but initially had an association with evil in the west.

The bug that visited us is either the Vagrant Darter or the Common Darter. They are native to Eurasia and are “on the wing” until November or December. Autumns and winters are much colder here than in Eurasia, so I suspect his days are numbered any time now. Dragonflies are amazing! But some species can grow to be enormous– several inches. So it’s no wonder some people are afraid of them.

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One Response to “Little Red Dragonfly”

  1. ann Says:

    Very cool pictures. I found a dead dragonfly last year. It was actually the first time I had ever seen on that close and I was amazed by their wings.