Jun
24
2008

  Saving the Life of a Dragonfly

Today Terry saved the life of a dragonfly. While we were tubing on the James River, we anchored ourselves to some large rocks while we ate lunch. I saw a dragonfly caught in an abandoned spider's web (the web was half torn and looked old and there was no spider nearby), and thought that it was too bad that it got stuck for no good reason, and thought it was already dead. I wouldn't have felt sorry for it if there was a hungry spider nearby, since at least the dragonfly would have died for a good cause in that case.

But after quite a few minutes, I thought I did see the dragonfly move it's leg, so I asked Terry to set it free. He was actually sitting on the rock so he was closer since I was still floating in my tube.

Terry confirmed it was alive, and plucked it out of the web. But he put it in the water. I had a bad feeling about that, but gave Terry the benefit of the doubt that maybe he thought the water would help rinse off the web. When the dragonfly wasn't moving much in the water, I asked Terry to pick it up and put it on the rock.

Terry did, and watched it. First the dragonfly just moved a little bit, but then started flapping its wings. It's tail was bent and it didn't look good, but it didn't seem fatal. When it was having trouble with its wings, Terry noticed there was still some web stuck on them, so he actually managed to carefully pull more web off, and that allowed the bug to move its wings more freely.

We wanted to feed it, who knows how long it had been stuck in that web, but we had no idea what dragonflies eat. I suggested we at least could give it water. Terry scooped up some river water, and let it run down the rock in front of the dragonfly. I actually saw the dragonfly walk over and put its head down to drink. I was ready to go at that point, but Terry wanted to stay longer to make sure the dragonfly would be ok. So we did.

It didn't take long after it stopped drinking for the dragonfly to stretch its wings some more, then fly off, broken tail and all. I think maybe it won't be able to mate now. Terry thought this wouldn't be a big deal to a dragonfly, but I pointed out since all they do is eat and mate, that's a pretty big dint on its lifestyle if it's down to just eating.

Maybe it will become a dragonfly food critic. Terry noted that dragonflies probably like flying around, and ours still had that going for him. True.

Terry said he never would have taken the time to rescue a dragonfly when he was working, but now that he's retired, it was a perfectly reasonable afternoon activity. I'm so glad that he's slowed down, I haven't seen him this happy since the early days of AFS, and I haven't ever seen him this relaxed before, ever. This is shaping up to be a very good year for us.