Watch out for the UFOs of summer

ESCANABA – Almost like unreal, they hover, dart and are gone.

The UFOs (unidentified flying objects) of summertime can be a little scary, but they’re always fascinating.

When we were kids we called them sewing needles. We were told that if you stood still long enough, they’d stitch your eyelids shut.

The big bugs never did any sewing, but they did weave their way into the beautiful landscape of summer.

Dragonflies drift along the river’s edge. The early morning mist coats them with sparkling beads.

The water’s edge is a world of color. Gentle blue flags, the wild iris, stand proud. Milkweed blossoms of mauve and pink gather the bees and the butterflies. Tall, green spears of cattail stalks dotted with bronze, rise like steeples on the riverbank.

The dragonfly is at home here. He hunts. He mates. For a month or two, the adult dragonfly lives by the pond, lake or wetlands.

Dragonflies begin their life cycle underwater. For over a year the dragonfly nymph feeds at the bottom of the river. After he has feasted on everything from insects to tadpoles, the nymph crawls up on a reed or stick to shed his skin. The metamorphosis changes the creeping water bug into a winged fling creature.

And they’re off, hovering over the water, eating many smaller flying insects and a lot of mosquitoes.

A good indicator of a healthy, clean environment, dragonflies are one of nature’s many helpers. Fish love to eat them, children love to chase them and photographers love to spot them in their beautiful surroundings.

Michigan is home to several types of dragonflies and damselflies. Ranging in iridescent colors of green, red, blue and black, they are a bonus of summer, just like the wildflowers.

Dragonflies catch their prey by making a basket-like trap of their legs. Summer wouldn’t be complete without lazy days by the lake, camping, fishing, or canoeing while the dragonflies dance their dance. After mating, the female dragonfly deposits her eggs back into the calm waters. And the cycle begins again, summer will come again.

Enter the watery world of the dragonfly. Enjoy a morning by the river or lake and see if you see any unidentified flying objects.

Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.