A squadron of dragonflies

Seaside Dragonlet Dragonfly

Dozens of dragonflies have surrounded my house. And I think I know why.

In the 10 years I’ve lived here, only a handful of dragonflies have graced my gardens. But since early June, dozens of the prehistoric-looking beauties have been hovering like helicopters around my house. Why are there so many this year? Do they bite? What do they eat? And most important: What does this mean?

The first time one appeared, it buzzed around my head and froze a foot in front of my face, studying me with those big eyes. The needle-bodied black creature was at least four inches long. Soon, another one came along…and another…and another. Before long, the creatures were circling 10 feet above my head, creating a rattling sound with their vibrating wings. I like to think they were talking about me, having a discussion about what kind of odd creature this was sitting in the sun eating a tuna sandwich. From that day on, every time I sat on my deck, my squadron of dragonflies appeared. The black ones were soon joined by blue, white and black, and green ones.


When writers come upon something they don’t understand, they dig in, do their research. I’m no exception. I spent half a day engrossed in entomology learning about my band of bugs. I discovered there are plenty of practical explanations—like the fact that when I sit on my deck in the heat, I sweat a little. My sweat attracts freckle-sized midges, and dragonflies eat flying insects. In fact, they can eat 30 to 100 mosquitoes a day. No wonder they are hanging around my house. The spring was incredibly wet this year, and that means mosquitoes had plenty of breeding grounds. And research shows that dragonflies swarm in places where food is plentiful.

Beyond the logical explanations, I like to think there’s something more behind my dragonfly brigade. Many people have written stories about them—why they show up and the messages they are trying to communicate. One such belief is that the presence of dragonflies means that something big is about to change in your life. Something transformative.


This month, life will change significantly for me. My 81-year-old mom will be moving from Oklahoma to live with me in New Jersey. I left Oklahoma in 1984 and have made frequent trips home, but I’ve missed my mom terribly all these years.

The move will mean big change for mom, and I give her lots of credit for being so brave. When she gets to Jersey, we’ll have lots of gossip to catch up on, romantic movies to watch, books to read, new recipes to share. My prayer is that we will have many adventures together in the years ahead.  


Mom hates insects and doesn’t hesitate to swat them if they get too close. Maybe when mom appears on my deck for the first time, my swarm of dragonflies will move on, knowing that the change has taken place. Their work here is done. And what if they decide to spend the summer with us? I’ll just have to hide the flyswatter.

“I love to see the sunshine on the wings of the dragonflies…there is magic in it.” – Ama H. Vanniarachchy, author, illustrator, archaeology scholar