Posted by: ktzefr | June 25, 2015

Dragonflies and Gnats: facts and musings about the small things

Dragonfly; Photo:Dylan Fawcett

Dragonfly; Photo:Dylan Fawcett

A dragonfly dips and dives

into a swarm of gnats,

the cloud of insects growing

smaller with each pass

of the green giant,

like a torpedo finding its mark,

a red-hot, just-fired missile in flight,

catching them unaware.

There is no safety in numbers.

I sit and watch with a cup of darjeeling tea

and a Hershey bar with almonds.

I sit and watch beneath blue skies and bright yellow sunlight

this first week of summer.

And I am amazed —

by the extraordinariness of the ordinary,

by the brevity of a gnat’s life,

by the luck of the dragonfly,

and by the simple delight in

a cup of tea

and a chunk of chocolate.

Things I didn’t know about dragonflies until today:

1.  They are carnivorous predators.  They love meat!

2.  A dragonfly can eat food equal to its own body weight in about 30 minutes.  That translates to more than most humans eat in a week. 

3.  Dragonfly nymphs, just out of the egg, start looking for food underwater.  They’re very fast swimmers and have no problem overtaking their prey.

4.  Once airborne they are killing machines that can out-fly and out-maneuver many other insects from mayflies to mosquitoes.  A handful of dragonflies can devour a huge mosquito population and keep the pests under control.  One negative, however, is that the dragonfly can also become a pest to bee populations.

5.  Dragonfly fossils from prehistoric times show insects with wingspans up to 2 1/2 feet.  Today, a flying critter that big with the same proclivity for meat could easily gobble up frogs and fish and small pets.


Don’t forget to slow down on occasion this summer and watch the dance of nature.

Check it out:  

Dragonfly facts, art, books, and gifts



  1. I have a few that have adopted my six-foot-long backyard pond. Gorgeous killing machines. Nature is indeed red of tooth and claw.

  2. The poem was beautiful. I learned a lot more about the dragonfly. With your words, I could see the whole episode unfolding. Awesome!

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