What’s for Snack?

by Anita Martin | May 21, 2021 | 0 comments

Heat waves shimmered across the field. It was another warm day for southeastern United States. Everyone was seeking relief from the midday heat. Inside the house, I was finishing the dishes when I happened to glance out the window. A group of flying insects caught my attention. “What’s that? A swarm of bees?” I asked of no one in particular.

Photo © Aksenova/Dreamstime.com

“Where?” my two brothers immediately perked up and left their reading to come join me at the large window facing the corral pen. The boys were trying to raise bees, so any swarm was of great interest to them. As we stood observing the swarm hovering above the wooden corral fence approximately one hundred feet away, they shook their heads. “No, it can’t be bees. But what is it?”

Curiously we stepped out into the bright sunshine and crossed our lawn. It wasn’t long till we recognized the flying insects—dragonflies. “A swarm of dragonflies!” I chuckled. “But why would they be gathering in such a large swarm?”

“Come, look.” My younger brother had run ahead and stood pointing at one of the posts. “Another insect, and the dragonflies are eating them. What are they, termites or ants?”

The post was covered with tiny winged insects scarcely more than ¼ inch (6 mm) long. Amazed, we watched the display before our eyes. Emerging from seemingly no where near the base of the old weather-beaten post, hundreds of winged insects crawled over each other as they all struggled upward. They did look very similar to ants, only they had wings—a set of very fragile-looking transparent wings almost twice as long as their tiny bodies. Once they took flight, their wings suddenly became very useful as they sailed off the top of the post into the warm May sunshine. Up and up they flew till the dashing dragonflies dipped down and neatly caught them in midair.

“There must be thousands of them!” my brother exclaimed as he peered down at the mass of churning wings, legs, and shiny black heads. “I’m getting the insect book!”

He returned soon, holding his finger under the heading “Termites.”

“Let’s catch one now and look at its wings.”

“Sure enough, see, its wings are the same length. And look at these ants,” he said, flipping the pages. “One set of wings is shorter than the other set.”

“So they are termites,” I concluded, “and they come from this old rotting post.”

I glanced up at the zipping dragonflies, their silvery wings flashing in the sunlight as they feasted on the helpless insects. “At least dragonflies do some good. I hope they get every one of those termites. I’m glad God created dragonflies to eat termites!”

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