(Host) Commentator Ruth Page was so inspired by the summer swoop and flash of the dragon fly that she was moved to compose a little verse.
(Page) It starts off its life deep down in a stream.
It’s more like a nightmare than something you’d dream.
Its mouth can gape wide, it’s completely predacious
With an appetite best-known as “truly hellacious.”
It can eat tiny shrimps, and even small fishes
(In fact, they’re one of its favorite dishes).
It may live under water for more than a year
Then climb to a twig or a branch that is near
And change from a monster into a vision
Nevermore to be greeted with frowns or derision.
It slowly emerges, it spreads its wet wings,
And waits ’till they’re dry from the warmth the sun brings.
Its eyes grow so huge that they cover its head;
They seem heavy and slow, but it’s not so; instead,
Their vision is sharper than eagle or jay:
On the wing, they spot prey eighteen feet away.
And no insect can ever report home and say,
“I escaped from a dragonfly’s long legs today.”
Legs reach out and grab, then form a small basket
And drop the live food in that personal casket
To eat as it flies; any protein will do,
So once the bug’s caught the fly holds on like glue.
Its legs are so spiny no bug can fly out of
Their clutch – and that there’s no doubt of.
They flash through the air because they can shoot
At true highway speed; and while they’re en route
The sun shimmers their colors in bright iridescence
Emerald green or sky blue may announce each new presence.
With a sudden, quick lift, they are up in the sky
On fast-twisting wings — without “learning” to fly.
They can’t walk, they can’t climb, but such is their fate
They can eat on the wing, and even can mate.
It’s the prettiest mating that ever was seen,
Two arrow-straight flyers, one King and one Queen.
He hugs her so tightly they don’t need to slow,
But aloft and on high, they cling; then they go
Till she drops all her eggs to the water below.
Dad then flies away; he has more seed to sow.
The bugs’ aeronautics make dazzling displays
Nothing else can fly in their magical ways.
They enjoy flying backwards, they turn on a dime,
Or quite upside-down, just to have a good time.
No pilot exists that won’t envy their tricks
And experimentation still can’t give them that fix.
In wind tunnels, robots with flexible wings
Can twist as the bug-flyers do–turn in rings,
Go forward or backward, go up or go down
But whatever they do, they’ll earn no renown
Till airplanes are made that can do just the same
And earn their inventors incredible fame.
The despair of all NASA’s flight engineers
They drive all the scientists nearly to tears.
For they can’t match the strength that lets these bugs raise
More weight than mere physics, with all of its ways
Of outwitting nature, ever can match,
Despite labs always testing, as new ideas hatch.
One researcher, impressed by the dragonfly’s power
Added weights to the wings during one testing hour —
More than twice this fly’s weight, yet the bug was so gifted
It didn’t even notice, and instantly lifted.
So science still works on these outstanding creatures
Hoping to copy their airfoil features.
This is Ruth Page, unable to resist rhyming for the loveliest flyer in the insect world.