Dragonflies – Myths and Truths

music
ambience river ecosystem (Basherkill), dragonfly wings

Dragonflies are the ultimate flying insect carnivore, but the creatures who should fear them are primarily other insects, certainly not humans. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“All dragonflies feed exclusively on other small insects or other small creatures, they either catch in flight or they sometimes pick off surfaces. They also are aggressive to one another, because often the dragonflies that you see are males that are protecting a territory. So you’ll see them fighting with one other — sometimes, actually audible physical clashes where you can hear the wings bashing against one another.”

Mike May is an entomologist at Rutgers University. He says that there are a number of persistent myths about dragonflies.

“One of the most common myths about dragonflies is that they sting or will harm people. This probably is the result of the fact that they’re large and have a long skinny abdomen that makes people think it might be able to spear them or sting them. In point of fact, dragonflies are entirely harmless to humans. If anything, they’re probably helpful because they do eat other insects including mosquitoes. But to go back to the dragonfly myths, their names include Devil’s Darning Needle and in many Latin American countries they’re called Caballitos del Diablo, which means the Devil’s Little Horses. They’re sometimes called Horse singers or Darning Needles. That also refers to their shape, but also there’s the correlated idea that they can actually, for instance, sew up your lips, or do things of that nature. None of that is true.”

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.
music

Dragonflies - Myths and Truths

Can nature's flying insect carnivores bite people?
Air Date:09/05/2011
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience river ecosystem (Basherkill), dragonfly wings

Dragonflies are the ultimate flying insect carnivore, but the creatures who should fear them are primarily other insects, certainly not humans. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"All dragonflies feed exclusively on other small insects or other small creatures, they either catch in flight or they sometimes pick off surfaces. They also are aggressive to one another, because often the dragonflies that you see are males that are protecting a territory. So you'll see them fighting with one other -- sometimes, actually audible physical clashes where you can hear the wings bashing against one another."

Mike May is an entomologist at Rutgers University. He says that there are a number of persistent myths about dragonflies.

"One of the most common myths about dragonflies is that they sting or will harm people. This probably is the result of the fact that they're large and have a long skinny abdomen that makes people think it might be able to spear them or sting them. In point of fact, dragonflies are entirely harmless to humans. If anything, they're probably helpful because they do eat other insects including mosquitoes. But to go back to the dragonfly myths, their names include Devil's Darning Needle and in many Latin American countries they're called Caballitos del Diablo, which means the Devil's Little Horses. They're sometimes called Horse singers or Darning Needles. That also refers to their shape, but also there's the correlated idea that they can actually, for instance, sew up your lips, or do things of that nature. None of that is true."

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.
music