The Eye of a Dragonfly

The lifespan of an individual dragonfly can be less than six months, yet as an order with more than 5,000 known species, the dragonfly has subsisted for over 300 million years due to its design and its fresh water habitats. Both under water and above, the dragonfly adeptly hunts its prey. Their scientific order, Odonata or “toothed one,” names them for their serrated teeth. The nymph’s swift retractable jaw and the dragonfly’s wide eyes allow this hunter to snare its prey at speeds almost unimaginable to humans. Even though some dragonfly nymphs spend the first two years of their lives submerged in water, they are able to take their first flights only twelve hours after they’ve emerged and shed their nymph exoskeletons. While our eyes can’t see what the dragonflies see, we are at least able to appreciate the dragonflies’ complex, iridescent wings and their vibrant, various colors that hover over our puddles and ponds. Whether it’s through the lens of a high-speed camera or the haiku of a Buddhist poet, looking at the dragonfly reminds us of the intricate connectedness of all beings through time.


The distant mountain
reflected in his eyes...

            —Kobayashi Issa, 1763-1828