Wednesday, June 25, 2008
For some Native American tribes they represent swiftness and activity, and for the Navajo they symbolize pure water. Dragonflies are a common motif in Zuni pottery; stylized as a double-barred cross, they appear in Hopi rock art and on Pueblo necklaces. It is said in some Native American beliefs that dragonflies are a symbol of renewal after a time of great hardship.
In Japan dragonflies are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness, and they often appear in art and literature, especially haiku. In ancient mythology, Japan was known as Akitsushima, which means "Land of the Dragonflies". The love for dragonflies is reflected by the fact that there are traditional names for almost all of the 200 species of dragonflies found in and around Japan. Japanese children catch large dragonflies as a game, using a hair with a small pebble tied to each end, which they throw into the air. The dragonfly mistakes the pebbles for prey, gets tangled in the hair, and is dragged to the ground by the weight.
Also, in Japan, amongst the Three Great Spears of Japan is one which is called the Tonbo-giri, which when translated is called 'The Dragon Fly Cutter'. The spear is an important part of Japans imperial regalia- the spear itself was once wielded by the legendary Samurai, Honda Tadakatsu. It's name is derived from the story that the blade is so sharp, a dragon fly once landed on it and was instantly cut in half.
They also have traditional uses as medicine in Japan and China. In some parts of the world they are a food source, eaten either as adults or larvae; in Indonesia, for example, they are caught on poles made sticky with birdlime, then fried in oil as a delicacy.
Vietnamese people have a traditional way to forecast rain by seeing dragonflies: "Chuồn chuồn bay thấp thì mưa, bay cao thì nắng, bay vừa thì râm" (Dragonflies fly at low level, it is rainy; dragonflies fly at high level, it is sunny; dragonflies fly at medium level, it is shadowy).
In the United States dragonflies and dameselflies are sought out as a hobby similar to birding and butterflying, known as oding. Oding, from the dragonfly's Latin species name, odonata. Oding is especially popular in Texas, where 225 out of a total of 457 known species of odonates in the world have been observed. With care, dragonflies can be handled and released by Oders, unlike butterflies.
(from Wikipedia, but with reputable sourcing)
To find the species in MD