One morning recently, on my way outside to take care of the potted garden, I found this guy (or girl) hanging from the sail shade in the courtyard. What a great way to start my day. I am a huge fan of dragonflies. Butterflies are beautiful, no argument at all, but for me, it's dragonflies as the preferred beautiful flying insect. And honestly I have no idea why. The same way people prefer one colour over another, I like dragonflies more than butterflies.
First of all there's the name. Come on. Dragonfly. Butterfly. Dragon vs Butter. Dragons are pretty badass. They can fly and they breathe fire! On the other hand, butter makes for a delicious cookie and I do like cookies. Also dragons are imaginary and butter is real. Hmmm. Nope I stand by my first claim. I prefer dragonflies over butterflies.
I have learned a few things about dragonflies. First of all, they've been around in one form or another for a very long time. Fossils 325 million years old have been found of the ancestor of dragonflies. And prehistoric dragonflies were a lot bigger too, in some cases the wing spangs were as much as 30 inches across! Whoa!
Currently there are more than 3000 different types of dragonflies and they are found on every continent except Antarctica which is amazing. Not everybody feels the same way about them. In Japanese culture a dragonfly is a symbol of Autumn and means rebirth, strength and happniess. Awwww I like that.
In Chinese Feng Shui depending on where the dragonfly art is placed, it represents new insight and positive changes. That's cool too. In Hopi, Zuni and Pueblo Native American Tribes, a dragonfly is associated with transformation. Also nice.
But in Swedish folklore it is said that the devil uses dragonflies to weight a persons soul. Kind of grim eh? The translation for the Norwegian word for dragonfly is "eye poker" and in Portugal it's "eye snatcher". Yikes! Also not true.
The dragonfly has always been an inspiration to artists and artisans too. The Art Nouveau era in particular loved to use dragonflies in everything from textiles, to jewelry, to paintings and even woodwork! Louis Comfort Tiffany who is best associtaed with his remarkable stained glass lamps, was perhaps inspired by dragonflies because it's wings already looked like stained glass.
Here are ten things I did not already know about dragonflies and perhaps you didn't either:
1. Dragonflies do not sting and they generally do not bite people (generally?)
2. Juvenile Dragonflies are called Nymphs
3. Nymphs live in water for the first year of their lives
4. In some countries (I'm talking to you Indonesia!) people eat dragonflies as snacks. (ewwww)
5. Dragonflies are NOT related to flies. (thank goodness)
6. A group of dragonflies is called a swarm and that is so disappointing. I was hoping for someting way cooler and maybe magical sounding.
7. There are groups of dragonfly watchers (much like bird watchers). Dragonfly watching is called Oding from the classification odonata which sounds to me to be way too similar to orthodontia.
8. It is considered good luck to have a dragonfly land on you (by whom?)
9. Ducks, some birds, water beetles and fish eat dragonflies.
10. They need to warm up in the early morning sun before they can take off. Which is most likely what the little guy in our courtyard was doing that morning.
Obviously you can choose whatever you prefer, dragonfly or butterfly or bee or heck, perhaps you have no favourite flying insect at all! That's fine too. But I stand firmly in the pro dragonfly camp and I cannot imagine that every changing.
I leave you with wishes for a wonderful weekend and a few dragonfly photos:
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.