Hello Fellow Readers, You’ll enjoy the story of a dragonfly visiting an extraordinary memorial tree and what they symbolize. Plus, the benefits of dragonflies and their mysterious life cycle…
I partook in a happy email exchange from the caretaker of Myles memorial tree. It’s a Forest Pansy Redbud with stunning hot pink spring blooms and heart-shaped leaves that emerge shiny before maturing to deep maroon. The tree was planted at the Morristown High School last fall.
Myles Redbud started strong in early spring then suffered from the two nights below freezing. After a worrisome slow start to recovery, it is now rebounding beautifully. Along with a photograph of the tree, Margarita asked Myles’s parents if their son had any connection to dragonflies.
“In the seven years I’ve been here, I have never seen one, and now twice visiting, a small brown one is on the tree,” Margarita wrote.
To which Judy replied, “The google machine says: In almost every part of the world, the dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization… understanding the deeper meaning of life.”
The mysterious life cycle of dragonflies
The email exchange inspired learning more about the mysterious creature that spends most of its life in water. Their nymphs are greenish-brown, making it hard to notice them in the water where they feed on beetles, mosquito larvae, and worms. Larger species feed on tadpoles and small fish.
Smaller dragonfly nymphs molt six times over two months while larger larvae molt up to fifteen times over three to five years, depending on the species.
When the time comes to become an adult, they stick their heads out from under the water to begin to adapt to breathing air. Then they climb out onto a plant. There they molt for the last time into an adult with wings.
Most of the species spend only a few days or weeks as adults, some up to a year. They are skillful flyers, speedily flying six different ways. They are stunning to look at with long bodies, often iridescent in color and have transparent wings.
Benefits of dragonflies in the garden
Their acute eyesight and swift speed make them masterful hunters. One dragonfly can eat thirty to a hundred mosquitoes in a day as well as annoying gnats. It’s true though that larger species feed on moths and butterflies, even smaller dragonflies. But the benefits of dragonflies eases the sadness.
Fossils of these astonishing creatures date back 325 million years ago. However, the ancestors of dragonflies were enormous with wingspans of up to thirty inches. Today they’re in every part of the world except for Antarctica with wingspans that range from two to five inches.
Hundreds from varying species can swarm to feed on insects such as emerging flying ants or termites. Or to migrate— research of the mysteries of dragonfly migration is underway.
Dragonfly folklore varies widely.
Dragonfly folklore varies widely depending on the part of the world. In Japan, they’re included in poetry, characterizing joy and strength with red dragonflies being especially sacred. They signify fortune and harmony in China.
In Europe, they can be a sign of black magic. Often called “devil darning needle” or “horse stinger,” yet they don’t sting at all. They will bite, however, if they feel threatened.
There’s a Native American myth they once were dragons. As the story goes, a coyote convinced a dragon to change himself into a dragonfly, and then couldn’t turn back, which sounds deceptive. However, the dragonfly came to symbolize change and swiftness—images of dragonflies in Navajo paintings next to water represent purity.
“Thanks for noticing the dragonfly, Margarita,” Judy wrote. “It’s very special indeed!”
To learn more about Myles memorial tree, click through to A Forest Pansy Redbud of Hope.
The photographs of the dragonflies are compliments my kind neighbor Monica. Read more about the “bug lady” :^) in a previous column titled Beneficial Ladybugs.
A fascinating article on 7 Traits of Self-Realized People According to Abraham Maslow