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Dragonfly Facts, Symbolism, Meanings, and Photos

Cynthia is a digital marketer, writer, and artist. She writes about a variety of topics, especially languages, art and culture.

Dragonflies are beautiful and mysterious creatures, but what does it mean when you encounter one?

Dragonflies are beautiful and mysterious creatures, but what does it mean when you encounter one?

Dragonflies are remarkable insects whose recognizable features include two large eyes, two transparent sets of wings, and a thin, elongated abdomen. We all know they are beautiful, but what does it mean when we see them? What do they symbolize? What is their cultural significance?

Dragonfly Meanings at a Glance

Seeing a dragonfly in your daily life can signify a variety of things, including:

  • Change
  • Strength and adaptability
  • Moving toward light
  • Deep thoughts surfacing (listen to them!)
  • Metamorphosis and transformation
  • Magic

This article will break down some of the possible meanings of dragonfly encounters to help you figure out why this creature of light has come into your life.

Dragonflies spend a year or more underwater as wingless juveniles before finally emerging to take to the skies.

Dragonflies spend a year or more underwater as wingless juveniles before finally emerging to take to the skies.

What Do Dragonflies Symbolize?

Dragonflies carry a lot of meaning. If one has come into your life and gotten your attention, you're probably hoping to find out what the encounter means and whether you should do anything about it. Here are a few interpretations of the dragonfly as a symbol.

Change

The primary interpretation of the dragonfly as a symbol is change. I had a personal experience with this: one came in through my car window and landed inside when I was traveling at 40 miles per hour. I thought it had died because it fluttered for a moment then stopped moving. I pulled over to let it out, and it suddenly took flight and sped away.

This insect flying in through my car window and living through the experience was, for me, a powerful sign that change was going to happen, and it did—I changed the path of my career by enrolling in university a few weeks later!

Strength and Adaptability

Other powerful meanings of the dragonfly are strength and adaptability. These traits have helped the dragonfly survive the test of time as a species on this planet. If they lose one set of wings, they can still fly.

In addition, their eyes have compound lenses that allow them to see 360º, or in all directions. This allows them to adapt to threats and new situations very quickly. They clean their eyes with the comb-like hairs on their legs.

Moving Toward Light

The dragonfly is also a creature of light. If you find one in your travels, it might be telling you that you need to get out and enjoy the sunshine more or that you should get yourself near fresh water. These actions just might boost your mental and physical health.

The sunlight reflects dragonflies' beautiful colors. Many people throughout history attributed this to magic or something mystical, while in reality, it was just their physical nature. You might want people to only see the impressive, successful part of yourself, but in reality, they should see you as a whole person—they should accept the good with the not so good.

If you've encountered a dragonfly, you may not want to be "mysterious"—dragonfly symbolism urges you to be yourself and not use tricks or magic to fool people.

This is a drawing I completed of a dragonfly using Sharpie marker on paper. 18"x24," completed 06/2013.

This is a drawing I completed of a dragonfly using Sharpie marker on paper. 18"x24," completed 06/2013.

Dragonflies Are Teachers of Wisdom

The dragonfly is a creature that is full of wisdom. She teaches that life is about change and that we need to be careful to live our lives with clarity and resist illusion.

Because they are creatures of light, dragonflies can help you to use creativity, color, and imagination on a greater level. You can also look to the dragonfly to help shed its light on your life by illuminating things that are currently in shadow.

Because dragonflies begin their lives underwater and only eventually come to the surface, they are also symbolic of the emersion of buried thoughts or feelings. The dragonfly lifecycle can be a mirror of what's going on in your life. You might have thoughts coming up that need your attention, or perhaps it is you that needs to "surface" in order to change your own perspective.

Facts About Dragonflies

The dragonfly is a seemingly magical insect. Here are some interesting facts that shed light on what makes them so unique.

  • They have been around on the earth for a long, long time—they emerged somewhere between 180 and 300 million years ago.
  • They have broad bodies and large eyes with sharp vision. They are able to track movement up to forty feet away.
  • Their feats of flight are remarkable. They can fly forward or backward and can travel as fast as 30 miles per hour.
  • They have two phases in their lives. They start out underwater as wingless insects. They remain submerged for well over a year before moving into the air after growing their beautiful wings.
  • When they're young, their colors aren't as developed as when they become adults. Once they are fully grown, however, their colors seem to glimmer like jewels. Their wings are especially iridescent.
  • Though they might be curious to fly around humans or other animals, they do not sting or bite.

What Do Dragonflies Represent to You?

The dragonfly is such a fascinating creature that multiple cultures have attributed different characteristics to it.

In some Native American cultures, it can represent the souls of the deceased. In other cultures, stories are told about how the dragonfly morphed from real dragons. Today, however, they have nothing to do with dragons aside from sharing part of their name.

Dragonflies are such wonderful and peaceful creatures to watch, and their curiosity toward humans makes them all the more intriguing. May you notice when one appears in your life—perhaps there is the change in the wind!

This dragonfly was sitting on a stem by a pond where I was camping in the Outer Banks, NC.

This dragonfly was sitting on a stem by a pond where I was camping in the Outer Banks, NC.

© 2013 Cynthia Calhoun

Comments

LeaRea Fairchild on April 23, 2020:

A yr to the day after my friend passed I was on balcony a umbrella was open drying out,when one dragon fly appeared! 4"across and every time I looked at it , it would raise one wing twice and nod it's head!! It was there for 2 hours and I took a picture of it &under it was a ball of light ! Mind u the sun was blocked by umbrella! This light had a face and was multi colored. So what do you think? Should I post a picture of it?

Nadya on December 29, 2019:

Many years ago I came across a pendant- at I thought I was a fairy but upon closer look it’s a dragonfly- it turned out to be both- everyone I wear it I will have at least one person comment on the piece (it was purchased over 13 years ago). Fast forward about 8 months ago I’ve had a deserved for another tattoo and them came to me out of no were it should be dragonfly. I didn’t think much of it but while visiting Vietnam recently the desire to get a tattoo there arose- I was hesitant (getting a tattoo in a foreign country isn’t my thing) and said to the Universe if I’m to get this tattoo here ‘I must see a dragonfly’- one day later while on a tour several dragonflies flew around me for some time (as if they were making sure I saw them). In disbelief I ask the people I was with to confirm if they are seeing dragonflies - they confirmed and I got the tattoo!

mari on October 16, 2019:

On the high rise condominiums, checked all floors, yet they flit around outside, just mine at the window where I sit. They float still, check on me and go back and forth

Pat on September 16, 2019:

Yesterday I noticed over 100 dragonflies on my property. I mean not one of them flew over my property line. They were there most of the afternoon and still flying around when I went out at 6:30 p.m. My neighbors were intrigued that they were only on my property. My life has big changes coming in the next few weeks. I have been very upset and scared about these changes and am wondering if this was a sign or message that things will be alright and safe for me once again.

Tammy on September 07, 2019:

Had one landing all over me today. Started on my back, arm, hand but spent the most time just looking up at me from my leg.

Jn420991 on August 25, 2019:

Yesterday the biggest dragonfly I've ever seen randomly landed in front of me in a parking lot when I was talking with a friend. It was on its back and couldn't get up. I helped flip it over and it stayed there for about 20 minutes recovering. I continued to watch it to make sure it was still alive.

Once he recovered, he quickly flew toward me, landed on my leg, stayed there for 10 seconds, and flew away.

I was in awe and felt this must mean something. Any thoughts?

Keepingitlight on August 19, 2019:

We just went on a country drive and there were thousands(no exaggeration) alongside the road. It was like driving through a faerie habitat

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on July 17, 2019:

Santina, pay attention to what is happening in your life around this event. Have good things happened? Things that make you "pay attention"? I'm willing to bet that this particular dragonfly came to you because it felt safe enough to transition from this world to the next in your presence. They are a symbol of metamorphosis and change. :)

Santina on July 08, 2019:

The biggest dragonfly ive ever seen up close scared me last night. It is probably 2.5 to 3 inches long and its wingspan is about the same.

I live on the 12th floor so i dont see many insects and being in the Greater Toronto Area I very rarely see dragonflies.

The dradonfly was on its back, under my chair on my balcony. Trying to beat its wings and making a ztrange noise against the cement.

I helped it flip back over, but i knew it was on its way out.

I now have a dead dragonfly on my patio table.

Why did it come to me to die?

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 03, 2019:

Beautiful! I would see what life has to offer in the next few days. Though seeing dragonflies is always special, it's when they do something unusual that is supposed to call your attention to them To that end, that beautiful creature "coming back to life" could have a lot of implications. Is there something in your life that hasn't been flourishing and might once again? Perhaps you have a project that has gone stale, but once completed will be incredible. It's up for interpretation, but it's worth it to look at what's going on in your own life that merits "revival." :)

Janice on June 02, 2019:

While camping this weekend I notices many beautiful small dragonflys and commented on them. At breakfast this morning while sitting outside a large dragonfly flew up to me and landed upside down on my plate, looking dead. I had a napkin in my hand so touched it to its feet and it attached to it. I turned it up and we sat and admired it's huge green eyes and beautiful wing pattern. We took quite a few pictures and then he just flew away. What an experience! Can you shed any light on this?

Fred Odhiambo on March 29, 2019:

I've got hundreds of dragonflies following we everywhere I go!!!

Zack Zielinski on October 03, 2018:

Excellent article, I have had dragonflys appear everywhere I look for the last two months which lead me to look them up. I actually had one fly into the warehouse i work at and hit me right in the face... no joke.. they constantly observe me by doing eye level circles around my head as to get my attention. I have been kinda freaking out as to why its been happening so this article puts me at ease. To top it of i took a hike today to clear my head and noticed a rock i liked only to pick it up and on the underside was a fossilized dragonfly. I have since cleaned the rock and placed it in my room:) This is a good thing i think but actually could ve telling ne to change my path?

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 23, 2015:

Kristen - aw, thank you! I appreciate you stopping by. :)

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 23, 2015:

Great hub Cindi about the facts on the dragonflies. Very useful and interesting, too.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 03, 2014:

Jerzimom - thank you so much. Have a great day!

Cheryl Fay Mikesell from Mondovi, WI on September 03, 2014:

Great article about Dragonflies. I love them!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 30, 2014:

Vellur - thank you so much! I appreciate your feedback. Great to see you. :)

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 30, 2014:

A great hub, the sharpie images is amazing! Interesting and informative hub.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 13, 2014:

Larry - I appreciate all your comments - you've made my day. :) I love to watch dragonflies - they are so interesting to watch and truly remarkable. Thank you!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on May 13, 2014:

Another superb article. I remember how much I used to like watching the dragonflies during breaks from working the hay meadows while under the shade tree. They are truly beautiful.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 08, 2014:

Thanks, Vicki. I love some Sharpie drawings. ;)

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on May 07, 2014:

Neat hub! I love the sharpie drawing!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 06, 2014:

Lisa - thank you so much! They are so intriguing. :) It's fun to study about them.

Lisa Chronister from Florida on January 06, 2014:

This is a very interesting article! I have always thought that dragonfly's were beautiful, but I never realized all the things that a dragonfly symbolized! Thanks for sharing, I voted up.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on December 12, 2013:

Poetryman - that's great! And it sounds so beautiful!

poetryman6969 on December 08, 2013:

We dozens of dragonflies mating or doing something over the duck ponds in the fall.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 20, 2013:

Crystal - hehe, thank you! I hope you have a wonderful weekend! cheers

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on September 15, 2013:

Probably the only insect I actually like. Dragonflys are truly beautiful. I love your artwork as well. Voting up and interesting.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 01, 2013:

LW - aww, thank you. Sorry for the delay in responding - been away from HP lately. Need to get back into it. :)

Love the fact that you did an article on these guys, too. I'll definitely check it out. :)

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on August 19, 2013:

CC, voted up, useful, interesting, and shared. Very useful resource with some very interesting facts about the dragonfly. I learned a lot about them when I researched them for a tattoo article a year or so ago, didn't know about the Native American association. Well done, hope all is well, and I'll see you around.

Bebe on August 14, 2013:

My son was murdered 17 years ago,I greive so, his case is still unsolved..I am very depressed, as I live in New York city, everything is concret, feeling so heartbroken, getting so old 75, my health deteriating, I was sitting pitying myself and thiking of the days gone by in the past,I sat by my window, A beautiful Drangonfly sat on my windowsill and was looking at me, It sat there for abot 5 minutes I talked to it, and told it, It can stay with me, I enjoy its beauty and company especially I live on the second floor of an apartment building in the city, there are no butterflies, or Drangonflies around Yet it came with its transparent wings and rested with me, I felt real good and happy inside, It bought a calmness to my soul, Maybe it ws trying to tell me something I felt it could understand me talking to it, it stayed with me till I stopped talking to it, and it glided off I think it is my son trying to tell me Mom don't give upm things will change, ..also the same window sill about 5 months ago A beautiful Multicolored one came to me and into my room, It let me pick it up and I took it outside the window to fly away..this is the second time I had visits from Dragonflies, do you think My son is trying to tell me something, I feel he is

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on August 03, 2013:

DOM - sorry it took so long to reply - thank you, thank you. :) I have been out of town taking graduate courses and only now am I getting a chance to come by HP, lol. I hope you are well, thank you for the warm comments and thoughts. xo

Melissa Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on July 13, 2013:

Cyndi, I just wanted to let you know I added a link to this awesome hub in my dragonfly hub. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your encounter with the dragonfly again, and of course I LOVE your drawing!! :D

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on July 05, 2013:

Audrey - thank you! And you make me love poetry. ;)

Brett - great to see you! Yeah, they're interesting little things, aren't they? They are really interesting to watch for sure. Thank you for the shares, too!

Truthfornow - thank you. :) I had fun learning about these guys - they're so much fun to study.

Phdast7 - thank you! I hope you have a great day - thank you for your feedback. :)

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on July 04, 2013:

Beautiful and extremely informative. Nice. :)

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on July 04, 2013:

Amazing artwork. Thanks for sharing interesting information about dragonflies. I never see them in real life, so definitely a mysterious creature to me.

Brett C from Asia on July 04, 2013:

It was strange timing to see this at the top of my feed, as the last couple of days I have been surrounded by these creatures. It seemed like they had all swarmed out from the lake I live near. Kinda beautiful and interesting to watch them ... the birds also enjoyed the event!

Interesting, up, and shared.

Audrey Howitt from California on July 04, 2013:

You make me love the dragonfly!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on July 03, 2013:

Elias - thank you for coming by. :) I appreciate your feedback.

Randomcreative - thank you! I had a lot of fun with the artwork. :)

Alocsin - oh, I bet the dragonflies are BEAUTIFUL in the Philippines! Thank you so much for coming by!

Aviannovice - that's really neat! I can imagine you being around the water in Maine and developing your love not only for these creatures, but for our avian friends, too. :)

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on July 02, 2013:

I have a great deal of respect for dragonflies and damselflies. I spent a lot of time in Maine, and due to water being everywhere, they were very plentiful. It was enlightening to see them play together.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on July 01, 2013:

I don't see many dragonflies here in Southern California, so it's always a treat when I come across one. When I was a child in the Philippines, however, dragonflies were all over the place. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 01, 2013:

Great resource, Cyndi! You put so much thought and research into this article. Love the overview.

Elias Zanetti from Athens, Greece on July 01, 2013:

Dragonflies are fascinating insects. Thanks for sharing this interesting hub!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 30, 2013:

Bravewarrior - ya know, I'm with you on that one. As benign as they are, I don't think I could happily take an insect flying at me with a 2' wingspan, haha.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 30, 2013:

Dragonflies are so cool! I see them in my yard all the time. However, we still have mosquitoes, so I guess the population is rather lopsided. I had no idea dragonflies start out living in the water. Fascinating!

I'm glad they have downsized. I think seeing a dragonfly with a 2' wingspan would scare the daylights out of me!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 30, 2013:

Nell - that's hilarious! Hahaha. I have no idea, other than I have to ask: did it live? Then maybe you needed a little "light" on the situation. HAHAHA.

Teresa - great to see you! Thank you so much for your feedback. :) That's awesome that you have dragonfly jewelry. :)

Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on June 29, 2013:

dragonflies are my favourite insect. I collect jewelry and any other decoration inspired by them. I really enjoyed your hub Cyndi, both the writing and the artwork.

Teresa

Nell Rose from England on June 29, 2013:

Hi, I love dragonflys, I think they are such lovely creatures, saying that my experience with a dragonfly was somewhat more startling! lol! I was riding along on my motorbike, got to work and just as I turned into the carpark I saw something hit my visor! when I got out my friend was laughing so hard she was in hysterics! when I asked her what was wrong she said, why have you got a dragonfly splattered all over your helmet? wonder what that means....! lol! great hub and voted up!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 29, 2013:

Faith Reaper - ha! Thank you. :) I definitely enjoy way too many things - it's hard to know what to focus on. :) Oh well...I just do my best, right?

Thank you so much for the votes and shares! HUGS!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on June 29, 2013:

Cyndi, your hubs are always so very interesting to say the least. Thanks for all of the wonderful information on the dragonfly, which I did not know!

Your Sharpie art is always stunning. You are truly gifted in many areas.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 29, 2013:

Bill - I don't know how you're so danged quick, LOL. I imagine Bev's book is going to be AMAZING. Thank you for your kindness - always. :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 29, 2013:

Bev is writing a children's book about a golden dragonfly....and it is actually quite good. I love dragonflies....and I love your artwork. :)