While dragonflies and damselflies are in reality completely harmless to humans, a number of myths have arisen about them, here are a few that can be ‘debunked’.
Dragonflies and damselflies are ancient insects whose ancestors first appeared more than 300 million years ago. They have many unique features not found in other insects.
In many European cultures dragonflies and damselflies have aroused superstition and associations with the devil or misfortune. Old European names for dragonflies include ‘devils darning needles’, ‘horse stingers’, ‘adderbolt’ and ‘water witch’.
Eastern cultures, in contrast, often view dragonflies as benign and symbolising summer and happiness, but also fragility. They provide much inspiration for haiku poetry for example.
In reality Odonata are wonderful and harmless creatures that are a joy to watch. They eat pest insects such as mosquitoes and are good indicators of water quality and environmental changes.