My friendly dragonfly clinging to the plant marker. Photo by Rachel Andrews


It was last summer that my first bug triage unit was formed. Two damselflies had gotten stuck in a spider web on a dock I was swimming near. Luckily, I was with a friend, so we each quickly freed one of the damselflies and began the laborious task of cleaning their wings of the sticky spider silk.

The damselfly I cleaned. Photo by Eric Vogl

I was immediately shocked by how trusting these creatures were. They both clung to our fingers while we scraped and prodded at their wings. They didn’t hop off or even seem to flinch. Because their wings are so small, we used wooden barbeque skewers to clean the remaining bits of web. It really looked like a bug hospital down on the dock. The neighbors were close by and soon came to see what was happening. It turned into a very cool experience which I didn’t think would ever have a repeat.

That is, until this summer when I found a very large dragonfly in the dirt around my pea plants. He was fluttering his wings and not going anywhere. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, but soon enough my cat came near and wanted him for a toy. It was either pick him up or watch him be eaten. Normally, I don’t go saving things from my cats, but this guy was special.

First of all, he was probably the biggest dragonfly I’d ever seen. Much different than the damselflies of last year who were tiny. Secondly, he also let me pick him up and did not hop off. I placed a plant marker near him, which he crawled to, and then I escorted him to a tall tree stump where he would be safe. I checked on him a few times and then he was gone. My feelings are that he flew away, since he wasn’t in the surrounding area. Hopefully, that’s what happened.

So with two stories of assisting these related species, it was important for me to look into their meanings. In Ted Andrew’s book Animal Speak, he notes the differences between damselflies and dragonflies but lists them both under the same heading. They are messengers of the power of light. They are ancient, and when they appear it can be a sign that transformation is happening. Along with the description in the book, I looked at the way in which the interaction happened. These creatures didn’t just land on me or flit around my head, they presented themselves to me in a weakened state. They showed their vulnerability and they trusted me enough to let me assist them.

The episode from last summer happened at a time when I was resisting assistance. I was being territorial, also a dragonfly characteristic, and walling off my true feelings in exchange for a false sense of security. The friend that was with me is the one I was hiding from. So it only makes sense to me that the encounter with the damselflies and my friend was saying, let go, trust, and transform in to the light. It also revealed that my friend and I would help each other transform. I took the advice, and as I knew deep down, it was the best decision I could have made.

This year, the dragonfly was in a somewhat different state. When I thought that he couldn’t fly, I quickly checked online to learn more about what could be done for him. It turns out that dragonflies can fly with only one set of wings. Since I saw him using his wings on the dirt, I assumed that he had a different issue. I also learned that they can live many years. In fact, they don’t even leave the water until they are two years old. He was absolutely huge, signifying maturity, so I knew his message would relate to refinement. So when he disappeared from the tree stump, I saw that all he needed was a boost in order to fly high and return to the sky dance that dragonflies are known for.

At the time he appeared, I was working on my new website and was seeing a boom in clientele from out of state. These clients were mainly due to word of mouth from two clients I had in that area. So they were my boost. All I had to do was believe in myself and put that light into my website. I was transforming my work into something greater than it had been. That dragonfly showed me that I can fly even higher if I trust the process and those around me.

Both encounters also showed me that people come to me wide open and trust that I will not take advantage of or harm them. It’s a great responsibility, which I deeply appreciate and take seriously. And of course, my clients see me wide open as well. The synergy of light and trust and transformation is what this work is all about. I’m so glad that those creatures showed me so literally what was happening in my life. Plus, it’s so much fun to play with bugs!

Love, Rachel

PS: I’d love to hear your bug stories. If you have any, please share them below!