- Author: Paula Pashby
There is a children's book titled Water Bugs and Dragonflies, published in 1982 by Doris Stickney.
The purpose of this book is to help young children cope with the death of a loved one. The characters in the book are fun-loving water bugs and dragonflies.
The story portrays the water bugs as a happy little group living below the surface of a quiet pond, playing and working together. However, every once in a while, the water bugs notice one of their members losing interest in the activities. They watch as a fellow water bug clings to a plant, climbs high up on the plant close to the surface of the water, and then eventually disappears from sight permanently. They cannot understand where the water bug goes.
So, they come up with a plan. They decide that the next water bug to climb up the plant must make a promise to return and let them know where they have gone. So, the next water bug climbs up the plant, breaks through the surface of the water, and eventually wakes up on a lily pad. Upon awakening, he realizes that he now has wings, which he was drying in the sun!
He flies around a bit and then remembers his promise to the water bugs beneath the water. He must return and tell them what happened when he left the water. He can see his buddies under the surface and tries to get back to them to tell them about his beautiful transformation into a dragonfly, but cannot go further than the surface of the water. He decides that even if he can reach them, they will not recognize him anyway. He resolves the dilemma by coming to the conclusion that he can still watch over the water bugs, and once the other water bugs become dragonflies, they will all be together again.
When I see dragonflies Anisoptera in the yard, I am often reminded of this sweet children's book and wonder if they are watching over their buddies who are still in the water. They are so much fun to watch. Dragonflies hold their beautiful wings open or down. If you see something that looks like a dragonfly but its wings are held together and upright, this beauty is actually a Damselfly Zygoptera (view pictures below to see the difference).
In an article written by Betty Victor and published by Solano County's Daily Republic, she noted that there is information showing that dragonflies and damselflies existed in prehistoric times, perhaps even prior to dinosaur existence!
Both the dragonfly and damselfly are quite beneficial, as the nymphs are born and live in the water and feed on mosquito larva. The dragonfly nymphs are said to look like little alien creatures with a hump hanging on its back. The damselfly nymphs have narrow bodies, six thin legs, large eyes, and three paddle-shaped gills in the rear.
Next time you see a dragonfly or damselfly nymph looking up from the water to the surface, perhaps he is looking for his buddy and does not recognize the adult dragonfly or damselfly with the beautiful wings looking over him from above.
- BUG SQUAD blog and photos by Kathy Keatley Garvey
- Daily Republic “Dragonfiles, damselflies are the ‘good' bugs” by Betty Victor: https://www.dailyrepublic.com/all-dr-news/solano-news/local-features/local-lifestyle-columns/dragonfiles-damselflies-are-the-good-bugs/
- University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: ipm.ucanr.edu/