|By Dodd, Mead and Company (New |
International Encyclopedia) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Maybe it has to do with reputation-tarnishing folklore surrounding dragonflies. Names like “devil’s darning needle”, “horse stinger”, “ear cutter”, and “eye poker”, and the notion that during the night they will sew shut the mouths of lying children, scolding women, and cursing men sure don’t help their cause. European folklore frequently associated dragonflies with the nasty red guy downstairs with horns and cloven hooves which doesn’t make anyone popular. I don’t know—I never heard any of this bad press when I was a kid (the 70s primarily), but then maybe that’s why I never had a fear of dragonflies.
Some people certainly do think, or are afraid that, dragonflies will bite or sting them. A few months ago, soon after I started this blog I posted Do Dragonflies Bite or Sting?, and that is by far my most popular post garnering frequent Internet search hits. The short, quick response to this notion is that it doesn’t happen. A free-flying dragonfly will never bite or sting a person as a defensive measure the way a yellow jacket or honey bee might when agitated. Swat at them all you want and there will be no retaliation. The complete answer is a bit more complicated and I go into that in the above post. In the mean time, just remember the short, quick answer and you’ll be fine. So, it doesn’t seem that biting and stinging contribute in a significant way to this general fear of dragonflies.
|By Drury, Dru, 1725-1803. |
Westwood, J. O. 1805-1893. [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
I’m reminded of a line from the movie The Mothman Prophecies (2002): Richard Gere’s character asks an old professor-type why the mysterious mothmen were doing what they were doing, and the response was “You noticed them. And they noticed you noticing.” Maybe when it appears that dragonflies notice you noticing, it naturally imparts a sense that they are thinking about you, and maybe that’s a little bit scary to some people?
Whatever reason people fear dragonflies, I have to think that it is based almost entirely on misinformation, misconception, and, maybe in some cases, nothing at all. Cases of biting and stinging only occur in particular circumstances (such as handling them), and even then only rarely. I have been been nibbled by dragonflies while handling them, but that was my fault, and it was always more startling than painful. I have never been stung during the many years that I’ve been chasing them. The benefits of having dragonflies around (by eating other flying insects) far outweigh any remotely possible painful interaction by multiple orders of magnitude. Any other reason to fear dragonflies simply doesn’t have substance.
Trust me. Don’t fear the dragonfly.