Friday, October 17, 2008


Do they bite or sting? I always thought they did but needed to know for sure. Why? We’ve had them hanging around the house for sometime now, and the dogs (puppies in particular) have decided it’s riotously fun to catch them, hold them in their mouths for a while, and play with them, taunting them shamelessly.

These dragonflies are the size of small birds. I’m not kidding… they have a six-inch wing span.

Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit. But they’re at least 4 inches… and that’s no lie! Joe said he recently saw 3 of the 4 puppies (when I say puppies, I mean our 50-70 lb., 16-month old dogs) simultaneously, and very proudly, hiding dragonflies in their mouths. These things are so big, that their wings were poking out both sides of the puppies' closed mouths!

BTW, they're mouths must be cavernous...Blaze can put a tennis ball in his mouth and close it like he has nothing in there!

I did a little google research. Here’s what I found:

A). "Can you tell me if dragonflies bite?" The answer to this question has three parts:

(i) "Do dragonflies bite?" YES, dragonflies bite, because that's how they capture their food. They have impressive, sharply pointed mandibles that chomp down on the smaller insects they catch.

(ii) "Do dragonflies bite people?" YES, if you catch one and hold it in your hand and carelessly allow its mandibles to reach your skin, it will bite as hard as it can in self defense. Very few dragonflies can even break the skin, but some of the big ones can do so and may induce an "ouch". They're certainly no danger to you, as the biggest dragonfly has a relatively small bite. A word of warning though: if, for some educational reason, you plan to let a dragonfly bite you, make sure you don't suddenly pull back, as you'll probably pull its head off and this is not a good example to present your audience!

(iii) "Do dragonflies bite people spontaneously?" A big resounding NO. A dragonfly would never land on someone and bite.

B. There is a second question: "Do dragonflies sting?" The simple answer to this is NO - they have no 'sting' as such. BUT there have been a number of accounts of egg-laying dragonflies that, when interrupted, continued the operation into the flesh or clothing of examining odonatists. Such actions could well be the origins of the many "old wives tales" pertaining to stinging dragonflies, and could also provide the answer as to why odonates have the names of 'Horse- stingers' and 'Devil's Darning Needles'. These names, and others like them, are part of dragonfly folk-lore in many parts of the world.

It appears the puppies are reasonably safe. They may get a that-will-teach-you-a-lesson OUCH! from a dragonfly, but nothing too serious.

While I was doing my research, I also deemed it necessary to find a few images, since I've none of my own.

This one is pretty (as insects go). Ours look nothing like this. Ours are ugly brown, and could eat this one whole.

Ooh. This one is pretty, too. Why aren't these lovely creatures coming to visit? (Okay, I'd still shoo it away.)

No, ours more closely resemble this... just double it's size and remove the pretty blue stripes.

Any clue as to what we're doing that's attracting the dragonflies... and how we can stop it?

What pests are you dealing with currently?

1 comment:

The Arthur Clan said...

We get the one in your bottom picture (with the pretty blue stripes.) They are amazing to see up close.

The praying mantis is the one insect that we end up with thousands of around our property. They are also pretty cool to see, but kind of scary at the same time.

Angie in OH

About Me

My photo
I'm a wife, mom, and grandma living in rural Vermont. I spend 40 hours of my week working outside my home and away from my garden, but am nevertheless passionate about healthy eating and sustainable living. By sourcing nutrient-dense food from local farms and avoiding processed foods, we are realizing how our over health is being impacted for the better. I’m excited to have you join me as I share what we’re learning and invite you to offer your insights in the comments. “…giving thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thess 5:16-18