Monday, July 20, 2009

Snakedoctors, dragonflies, damselflies, whatever...

Before I wrote last night's blog after returning from Horseshoe Lake, I should have done a bit of research. I thought I remembered from childhood that the fleeting flying insects with brown boides and two pair of transparent wings were called dragonflies and that the beautiful blue ones were called snake doctors. Since she too is from the Midwest, I was surprised when Dorraine Darden asked me what a snake doctor was. Hmmm.

So tonight I googled and found out that there are Odonat that are damselflies and others called dragonflies, and the difference is that the damselflies hold their often iridescent or transparent double set of wings close to their bodies when they are at rest. Dragonflies hold their wings straight out when at rest.

I was surprised to see pictures of these insects in various colors in addition to the dark and blue bodies that I have been familiar with. The photo most like the pretty blue flying insect I saw yesterday was labeled a dragonfly. But other sites showing blue flying double-winged insects labeled the photos as familiar bluet damselfly. I saw none of these insects at rest yesterday--all were flying beside or over the edge of the lake. So I do not know whether their wings at rest were at their sides or held straight out.

Regardless, the slender flying creatures were lovely and added to my enjoyment of our outing. They do not bite us humans, but do help keep down the mosquito population. They stay near water as they lay eggs in the water and seem to be in many countries. One site said that Dictionary of American Regional English lists 80 names for the dragonfly. The names I noted tonight were darner, darning needle, devil's darning needle, ear sewer, skeeter hawk, spindle, needle. If you want to know more, google.

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