Zen and the art of confusing Damsel Flies

Posted on 2012/01/23


Before we begin, it should be noted that this text should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either.

Now on to subject of this post.

Suborder Zygoptera contains many beautiful, even fanciful, members with similar characteristics. Elongated bodies, four wing, two large main eyes and they resemble Dragon Flies. One difference between Damsels and Dragons is that Damsels fold there wings back when not in flight whereas Dragons keep them out on either side of their bodies when landed. Below is example of typical Damsel Fly.
Damsel Fly

Damsel Flies are common in and around open fields near water. They prey on smaller Insects which they snatch in mid air then usually land to eat. This is Damsel chowing down on yummynesssss.
Damsel eating

Damsel Flies are usually hard to approach when not eating or making baby Damsel Flies. On the other hand they will often land near or even on you if you are sitting still. What is happening here?

Basically Damsels can understand movement relative to themselves. If that movement is smaller then it is not threat and often is food. If movement is larger than themselves then it is considered threat. Since people with cameras are larger than Damsels they simply fly away when we humans get too close. Fortunately they usually do not fly very far. Damsels seem to make this size judgement while landed and not in the air.

So putting this information together it is possible to develop approach method for Damsels. Did this several years ago.

First find flock of Damsel Flies. As stated above they are common in grassy fields close to standing water, as in lakes or ponds. Next get then airborne by approaching. Then get in or near their flight path and crouch down into photographing position, wait for one or more to land near you.

It takes some practice to understand their behaviour. Usually about 5 minutes is enough.

Below is example of what can be achieved with this simple technique.
More eyeballs

Have fun!

Posted in: Behaviour