Dragonfly Facts, Symbolism, Meanings, and Photos

Updated on June 30, 2020
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Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts, and culture, and sharing that knowledge.

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? | Source

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. | Source

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.


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. | Source

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. | Source

Do you often see dragonflies where you live?

See results

© 2013 Cynthia Calhoun


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    • profile image

      LeaRea Fairchild 

      5 months ago

      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?

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      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!

    • profile image


      11 months ago

      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

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      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.

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      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.

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      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?

    • profile image


      13 months ago

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

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      14 months ago from Western NC

      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. :)

    • profile image


      14 months ago

      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?

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      15 months ago from Western NC

      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." :)

    • profile image


      15 months ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Fred Odhiambo 

      18 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Zack Zielinski 

      23 months ago

      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?

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      5 years ago from Western NC

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

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      5 years ago from Northeast Ohio

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

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

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

    • Jerzimom profile image

      Cheryl Fay Mikesell 

      6 years ago from Mondovi, WI

      Great article about Dragonflies. I love them!

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

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

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

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

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      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 profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      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.

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

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

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Neat hub! I love the sharpie drawing!

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

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

    • Lisawilliamsj profile image

      Lisa Chronister 

      6 years ago from Florida

      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.

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

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

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      6 years ago

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

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

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

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      7 years ago from Georgia

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

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      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. :)

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      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.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      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

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      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

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      7 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      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

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      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. :)

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Beautiful and extremely informative. Nice. :)

    • truthfornow profile image

      Marie Hurt 

      7 years ago from New Orleans, LA

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

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett C 

      7 years ago from Asia

      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.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      You make me love the dragonfly!

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      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. :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      7 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      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.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      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.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 

      7 years ago from Athens, Greece

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

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      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.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      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!

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      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 profile image

      Teresa Coppens 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      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.


    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      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!

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      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 profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      7 years ago from southern USA

      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

    • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      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. :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      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. :)


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