Story of the Web Stuck Dragonfly


I have a story that is hard to believe. I was photographing dragonflies yesterday and ran across this one in distress. It was flapping frantically. I go over to investigate and the poor thing is caught in a spider web and only making its situation that much more dire with all the thrashing about.


I am not one to jump in on a natural wildlife occurrence…

but this was a mismatched pair of combatants. The tiny spider must have been overwhelmed at his fortuitous luck, except for his web. It is not the web shown above that I photographed the day before. The web the dragonfly is entangled was completely destroyed and much of it was adhered to the dragonfly.


Well, I felt bad the dragonfly was in peril so after it settled down, I carefully extracted it from the web, removing as much web as gently as I could. It already had wing damage and I tried to prevent more.


I carried it over to some green vegetation to rest for a bit hoping it would be able to fly off – and it did.

Of course I was patting myself on the back, when all of a sudden I saw where it was headed. It landed on the seat of a gator utility vehicle, those machines the park people drive around. I just started to run over to get it off the seat when the park worker came back and sat on it.

I said nothing but felt so bad for the dragonfly after I thought it was flying off to have another day. Its day was certainly not starting off well in the first place. The worker was going to have a big stain on the seat of her khaki pants too, another bad day in the making. No pictures of the squashing, mainly because I did not want her to know I knew what just happened.


Oh well, when your time is up, it’s up. No cheating the angel of death. Rest in peace Twelve-spotted Skimmer (?) – last image of it before its demise.

Two more dragonfly and damselfly posts coming up. I was so surprised with how many different dragonflies exist. They really are a beautiful creature. Another rather pretty, but detrimental insect over on GWGT. Follow me along on the Emerald Ash Borer workshop. It is a walk in the woods of discovery and understanding.

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33 Responses to Story of the Web Stuck Dragonfly

  1. Mike Powell says:

    Beautiful story with such a sad ending (but wonderful photos).

  2. Pat says:

    Poor dragonfly. I thought this story was going to have a happy ending.

  3. Debra says:

    Oh my goodness. As I was reading I thought of that folktale about the guy who runs into Death at the marketplace. Here is Somerset Maugham’s version:
    There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

    • donna213 says:

      I heard that story too. I am glad you posted it though since others may not have. It does make one wonder though. The dragonfly was very cooperative letting me remove the web. I think it understood my helping, he just was having the worst of days.

  4. Beautiful pics and post. Donna, don’t dragonflies live only a couple of weeks or so in the adult stage?

    • donna213 says:

      When I did research on dragonflies a long time ago, the Dragonfly Site said the adults live two months. I guess when it is short like that, every day is a lot more important.

      • Sure it would be. I was thinking that smaller ones lived only a couple of weeks and larger ones lived much longer. I think the full cycle is 6-7 years but only a short time as an adult. I haven’t looked in a long time. Thanks!

        • donna213 says:

          I read five years at the max for a larvae. Mayflies live one day I read too. I need an entomologist to write in. My next post has some pretty dragonflies. I never knew there were so many different ones in our area. Where I shoot the herons and egrets and where the birds fish is where I found all these dragonflies. This area was restricted before and now they opened it up.

          • I see. Yes, it’s amazing how many different ones there are. OSU has one of the high security “bug buildings” to repopulate the earth if an atomic, or some other disaster occurred. I have been inside it. Quite amazing.

            • donna213 says:

              Very cool. I knew of the seeds but never knew they have bugs to start over after a disaster.

            • There are two places in the world I believe that house them in case of a catastrophe. The lady that heads it up told me the within every square foot of soil a person steps on 5,000 insects. Who would ever think?

  5. Gorgeous photos! The other sad piece of this story is that after all that hard work building a web, the spider lost it meal.

  6. My Heartsong says:

    Talk about irony.Who knows what it experienced in those extra moments you gave it.Interesting story. I would gag if I knew how many insects were around me. I am funny with dragonflies, I love to see them but when they get too close I feel skittish.

  7. My Heartsong says:

    Gee I forgot to say something about your photos. Lovely close-ups, macro of the dragonfly and a magnificent web!

  8. Oh, how sad.. While I was reading, I was also thinking of helping the poor dragonfly but will be hesitant that I might somehow distract the natural flow of nature.. I figured that you helped, on which I was glad of but disheartened on how his life was ended… 😦
    so sad…. 😦

  9. bittster says:

    Wow, talk about a bad day…. and I’m sure I can think of a better way to go too! Strange how you got to witness it all. Beautiful closeups of the unlucky fella.

  10. Jet Eliot says:

    I found your story moving, Donna. The more we’re out in nature, the more we see. Great photos, too. Thank you.

  11. Lovely pictures Donna, and poor little thing, it must have been fate.

  12. Rose says:

    Talk about irony! This would be almost funny, if it weren’t so sad. Poor thing!

  13. I agree how ironic….these beauties are gracing the garden and especially this particular dragonfly…I have seen several in the garden.

  14. I ran the gamut of emotions reading this story. I wish there had been a better ending, but I would have done the same thing trying to release it.

  15. gregjoder says:

    That’s quite a story! I would have done the same thing, setting it free. I think there could have been numerous outcomes for leaving the dragonfly in the web or freeing it. I guess a lesson I see it that sometimes we think we’re helping someone when in reality we’re not (or appears that way). How many small flying bugs lived on that day because the dragonfly was no longer feeding? It seems we often never really know all the outcomes of our choices and actions and their rippling effects on others. We’re all connected…

  16. Spank. Chavier says:

    HI I came across your story while looking up
    Red dragon flys , and I kinda have 2 stories that
    That are kind of like yours one is about the red dragon
    Fly that flew in to my home last night it seemed to. Like
    The large lit up chandler we have hanging above. Our table
    I was able to catch it with out injury and release him back out
    Side 30 mins later he’s back in this time he went down behind. A
    Hutch, after getting him out and again freeing him with out injury . I thought we
    Had seen the last of him … WRONG ! Now this morning here is
    This dude again Only Now he was parked on my chair and just about
    Got sat on His flight dynamics were not as good. As before I noticed
    That he had a bit of cob webs stuck to his landing gear so I was able to free him
    But it was like building a ship in a bottle doing this with out him loosing a leg or
    Breaking a wing was a little tricky for my big hands but was able to free him up , so after letting him rest up I returned him back out side and across the yard this time . He seemed to be very happy for about 45 seconds before a blue jay came along
    And made him breakfast! Wow.! Did not see that coming !

    the other story is about a bird that was
    Injured and could not walk or fly out of the intersection that I was stoped at for the red
    Light in front of a high school as I watched this poor bird scared to death sitting in traffic. I tried to act like I did not see it and was not going to do anything about it. Well that did not last long and just before the light was going to change I
    made up my mind that I was going to get this bird out of harms way . I was driving a big tow truck so I set the air brakes. And turned on my overhead. Warning Lights
    got out to save this bird, and just as I walked up to pick it up . A car Load of high school girls drove right over the thing right in front of me !. They had no idea of what they had done, nor do I think they gave a dam , oh well . I guess I thought about it to long before Doing something about it . Sorry bird ! Or maybe it’s like you said when it’s your time , it’s your time . Anyways we tried right .

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