“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” ~ Juliet to Romeo, Wm. Shakespeare
As if dragonflies weren’t already fascinating enough just by virtue of their body structures and behaviors, I’ve been thinking about another reason I love them: their names. Juliet may have had a point, but she clearly wasn’t thinking about dragonflies.
Since they’re predators, it makes sense that many of them would have names indicating ferocity, strength, speed, or weaponry. I’m thinking here of groups like these:
If you didn’t know that these creatures are small and harmless (at least to humans), you might think they were some sort of giant monsters! Heck, even when you know they’re small and harmless, those names engender respect.
Of course, there are some less-fearsome names of dragonflies too, like these:
Mind you, regardless of how serene-sounding some of the names are (elfin skimmer, for example), every one of these critters is a ferocious predator. They’ll eat practically any other insect they can catch, including members of their own species.
Damselfly names, on the other hand, are much less threatening: bluet, dancer, spreadwing, jewelwing, sprite, and forktail (well, that one has a weapon in it, I guess).
Some specific dragonfly names that tickle my fancy are things like Elfin Skimmer, Blue Dasher, Rusty Snaketail, Riffle Snaketail, Black-shouldered Spinyleg, Unicorn Clubtail, Pronghorn Clubtail, Splendid Clubtail, and Gilded River Cruiser. Aren’t they wonderfully evocative names?
One of my favorites is the Cyrano Darner, named for Cyrano de Bergerac, he of the infamous large nose. It’s easy to see how this species got its moniker.
And lest we forget, the most formidable of them all is the DRAGONHUNTER! Recently I had my best Dragonhunter photo printed on a 2 foot wide canvas (below), which now hangs prominently in my living room. I’m not sure if people will think it’s odd to have large insect photos on the walls, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.