Monday, July 18, 2011

Garden Close-Up: The Legend of the Dragonfly

I have always had a fascination with dragonflies in the garden.  I had never really seen them before but when we got our pool in 1996 there became an abundance of them hovering around the water and even landing right next to me with not a single fear.  An appreciation for their beauty and gracefulness became instilled in me while there was still a mystery to be unraveled. 

I started to do some research on the legend of the dragonfly and found that there is indeed a legend....a story to be told that is quite fascinating. Dragonflies have been around for millions of years and were one of the first insects.   The family that the dragonfly belongs to, Odonata, is believed to have been related to the Damselflies and the myth states that the Dragonflies were once Dragons.  These creatures had measured  over two feet in length at the time and although they have shrunken down in size their appearance and function has remained the same. 

Dragonflies have been welcomed in the garden for years since they are carnivores and feast on garden pests such as mosquitoes, flies, gnats and aphids, thus making them beneficial insects.  An interesting fact about dragonflies is that most need light in order to fly and will land briefly even if a cloud goes by.  The dragonfly exhibits iridescence on its body and both wings.  Iridescence is the ability of colors to change based on the reflection and refraction of light which puts on a show of color magic as they fly through the air.  Dragonflies are water creatures in the first stage of their life then emerge to land as adults.  The adult lifespan is short, only long enough to reproduce then they die off when winter arrives.  The following year the cycle begins again when the offspring emerge.  Dragonflies are often attracted to pools, ponds or other bodies of water. I often watch as they dance around the pool and delicately balance on the tips of taller flowers in the garden.

Now onto the legend of the dragonfly.  In most cultures dragonflies are followed with many superstitions.  The dragonfly symbolizes growing, changing and sense of self.  Old folklore states that if a dragonfly lands on you it is a sign that you will hear good news from someone dear and the sight of a dead dragonfly symbolizes sad news.  In Japanese paintings they are the symbol for new light and joy, happiness, courage and strength.  In European culture the dragonfly was given the name of "Devil's Darning Needle" because of a superstition that the dragonfly would sew shut the mouths of lying children while they slept.  The Swedish name for dragonfly is trollslanda, which means "hobgoblin fly" or "goblin fly" in English. In Swedish culture it was believed that hoggoblins, elves and brownies would live in the woods and that dragonflies were considered to be the hobgoblin's twisting tools.  To the Chinese the dragonfly is a symbol of summer but also a symbol of instability and feebleness.

While in some cultures dragonflies are called the witches' or devils' animals they are honored in others. Some people believe that the dragonfly symbolizes emotional and passionate early years of life and balance and clarity with age.  There is an expression of mental and emotional stability as one matures. Dragonfly symbolism combines somewhat with that of a butterfly and change.  The iridescence or reflective property of the wings and body symbolizes a clear vision to the realities of life and self-discovery and a loss of inhibitions. The dragonfly symbolizes growth over past self-created illusions that hold back our progression.  It represents a sense of self that comes with age and maturity and clarity of the deeper meaning of life.

There are numerous superstitions, myths and beliefs about the dragonfly.  Next time you encounter one in your garden think of not only the benefits but also all the legend that follows this mysterious creature.  Gaze upon the dragonfly, unravel its mystery and jump into a world of imagination!

As Always~ Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee @ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011.  All Rights Reserved.


  1. Thank you for this - this is a lovely entry that makes you look at nature in a new way.

  2. What a delightful way you have shared your knowledge of Dragonfly..thank you..recommend everyone to read this..:-)

  3. This is an amazing Article! Ty for sharing your knowledge on the dragonfly!

  4. Thank you for the beautiful article! Today, as I was sitting outside taking a break, a brown and light tan dragonfly flying towards me and I put my hand out to see if it will land on my finger, and it did for a few minutes! That whole time I felt bliss, sence of peace and just a beautiful feeling. I feel blessed!

  5. So glad you enjoyed! They are believed to bring good luck in many cultures and I love when I see them on my property...such unusual and beautiful creatures!


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!


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