By Julia Magsombol 

Local Journalism Initiative 

[email protected]

They say that dragonflies can see in all directions simultaneously — and that might be true because, in this way, they symbolize a change and a view of self-understanding in some Indigenous communities.  

There are a lot of different kinds of dragonflies. But they usually have long bodies with two narrow pairs of membranous and transparent wings. Most of their wings have brown spots. 

There are approximately 3,000 kinds of dragonflies on Earth, but their colour varies from yellow to red, brown, and blue in Canada.

The heads of the dragonflies may not be apparent due to their small size, but if you look closely, their heads are very round. They have two large eyes (usually green) that wrap around their head. They have two antennae, and a lower jaw called a labium. Dragonflies can grow three inches long, with a wingspan averaging two to five inches wide. 

Like butterflies, they have three stages in their lifecycle. They start from eggs, then larva, then adult. Once they reach adulthood and have complete wings, their lives last only for five weeks. 

They prefer sunny, sheltered places in trees and bushes. Dragonflies are usually found near freshwater places such as riverbanks, canals, ditches, ponds and lakes. They are attracted to any place that has water. They can easily be spotted in wetlands. 

You might be wondering what most dragonflies eat considering how small they are. Surprisingly, dragonflies are carnivores. They usually eat mosquitoes, midges, flies, bees, butterflies, and other small insects they can easily catch. They eat whatever is available to them. Dragonflies rarely eat plants or nectars. 

Dragonflies are far from being extinct, as there are 7,000 species left. Based on the 2021 report of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 16 per cent of dragonflies worldwide are at risk for extinction. And the number one reason for this is their habitat deteriorating. Other reasons include climate change, water pollution, and human destruction.

There are 87 unique dragonflies in B.C. There are River Jewelwing, Vivid Dancer, Familiar Bluet, and more. See https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/plants-animals-and-ecosystems/species-ecosystems-at-risk/brochures/rare_dragonflies_bc.pdf

Since a dragonfly’s eyes wrap around its head, enabling it to see in all directions at once, this demonstrates a flexibility that allows for a smoother transition and transformation to oneself. 

Indigenous Peoples in the northwest coast see dragonflies as a symbol of new life and change in the view of self-understanding.