Saturday, July 20, 2013


[The following few paragraphs are a reprint of a blog post from several years ago titled "Skeeter Hawks." I am publishing it again because dragonflies have been flitting about in the village recently.]

For several days now dragonflies have been darting through the air around Ocracoke in great numbers. Intrigued, I did a little research on these beautiful creatures. I learned that Alfred Lord Tennyson described the dragonfly as a "living flash of light." Definitely an appropriate appellation. Their iridescent wings make them look like creatures from a childhood fairy tale.

A Blurry Photo of a Fast-Moving Dragonfly

Pat Garber's book, Ocracoke Wild, relates folklore about dragonflies from Arizona, South America, and medieval Europe.

Dragonflies are insects belonging to the Order Odonata. I did not know that they are the oldest surviving order of flying insects. As Pat explains, "300 million years ago giant dragonflies with wingspans approaching three feet hovered over swamps and bogs, the largest flying insects of all time."

I also did not know that as larvae (called nymphs) they spend two to five years as aquatic beings, moving along the bottoms of marshes and creeks eating small creatures. They spend only a few weeks as flying insects, but as aviators they are amazing, sometimes reaching speeds of 30 miles per hour or more.

Ocracokers love dragonflies because they are voracious eaters of small "bugs," especially mosquitoes. Hence the local name "Skeeter Hawks." As larvae they also consume great quantities of mosquito "wrigglers."

You can read more in Pat's book.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a photo gallery of past July 4th parade photos. You can read it here:


  1. debbie s.12:24 PM

    Did you know dragonflies eat mosquitoes? I didn't until recently. makes me like them even more. LOL

  2. Anonymous1:13 PM

    Of course they eat mosquitos as well as most other bugs. Ocracoke is like a buffet for them. If there is a bug out there Ocracoke has it as ell as spiders, ticks, all kinds of larva, centipedes.....Ocracoke is one big dinner table.

  3. Anonymous7:15 AM

    It is an endless cycle, the more bugs,the more bites,the more bugs the more birds looking for bugs,the more birds the more you have to wash your us grand,enoy it