Harbingers of change

Published 2:34 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I have been spending more time than I usually do daydreaming along the pond’s edge the past few weeks. Maybe it’s the excessive heat or the long over due vacation on the coast that has had me gravitating to water this summer. Whatever the reason may be, I have been enjoying time spent along the water’s edge.

One constant that has been present during most of my outdoor endeavors this year by the water and gardens has been the dragonfly. I have enjoyed its presence while relaxing in the yard, working in the gardens and daydreaming at the pond.

The dragonfly is a beneficial insect predator. The adults feed on almost any small flying insect, mosquitoes, gnats, flies, ants and termites included. The immature dragonfly, also known as nymphs, feed on aquatic insects such as mosquitoes, tadpoles and tiny fish.

Dragonflys have excellent eyesight; their eyes cover most of their head surface and they are very fast in the air. They can fly at speeds up to 35 miles per hour and will often catch and devour their prey mid flight. They do not bite or sting people and are very good to have in the garden and around the yard.

The symbolisms associated with the dragonfly are numerous. Power and poise is one due to its agile flight and ability to move in all six directions while flying. It’s iridescent properties represent the conquering of self created illusions. Its life cycle exemplifies living “in” the moment and it’s excellent eyesight symbolizes the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self.

The most prevalent of all symbols and meaning associated with the dragonfly is change. The dragonfly’s flight across the surface of the water represents moving beyond what’s on the surface and seeing into the deeper aspects of life — a change in one’s perspective and self realization.

America and Asia historically have viewed the dragonfly as a positive harbinger of change, prosperity, harmony and power. In Europe and Australia however, it has been associated with darker symbolism and evil.

I simply enjoy the dragonfly for what it is … a spectacularly entertaining beneficial flying insect of many colors. If you are fortunate enough to get a close-up look at one, you may notice as I have that some look metallic and almost robotic.

When I happen to cross paths with one of these, in particular my imagination runs wild and I think of them as tiny little science fiction helicopters flying about. Others dazzle with beautifully colored bodies and wings.

Providing suitable habitats for the dragonfly in the yard or garden is easy. They need only a small body of water in at least partial sun and vertical plant stems to perch on and watch for prey. A few rocks scattered about that they can bask on and warm themselves will also be appreciated. Fossil remains of the dragonfly indicate that they have been around for 300 million years.

Seeing them in such great numbers this year gives me some comfort in knowing that they are helping in keeping the mosquito population down in my little slice of heaven.

Dawn Conrad is a columnist for The K-V Dispatch. She can be reached at conrad.gardenmuse@gmail.com or fb.me/conrad.gardenmuse.