Welcome to my nature blog!

Welcome to my nature blog!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lessons from a Dragonfly

I've spent a lot of time observing dragonflies, They are interesting creatures that seem to be very aware of their surroundings.  They appear to be very aware of us humans too.  But is the average person aware of them?  We notice butterflies for their color, and other insects that "bother" us like flies and mosquitoes, but very few people pay attention to dragonflies.  Ancient myths about dragonflies say their iridescent wings bring "self realization" to help us live in the moment.  Are we thinking about how living in the moment can impact natural communities?

Here in the Midwest, we are lucky to have many colorful species to observe.  In fact, dragonflies are considered to be a sign of good luck.  Native Americans considered them symbols of happiness.  Perhaps this folklore grew from the fact that they rid us of pesky flies and mosquitoes.

During my observations, I could not help but feel that while I thought I was watching them, they were actually watching me.  Repeatedly hovering right in front of my face, landing on a nearby twig and turning to stare seemed to be common behavior.  They even seem to "pose" for pictures.  I'm sure this was instinctive behavior because I was invading their space, but it's hard not to apply human characteristics to an insect that has been around 300 million years.  They've had a long time to study us!

Different species appear at different times of year, but all dragonflies are indicators of water quality.  Dragonflies live most of their lives in water, and could not survive in polluted ponds and streams.  So here is the lesson plain and simple:  we protect our water sources, and we protect dragonflies, and we protect ourselves. 

Besides wanting to protect a species that can fly in six different directions and reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour, we should consider the contribution they make to our natural community, and to us humans personally.  When all our indicators of pure water are gone, it will be too late to save our own species too.  

So take some time to observe and study dragonflies and other natural things.  Give some thought to how everything is connected to our own quality of life, and then do something to make a contribution yourself.

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