26 Jun2010


As kids, we seemed to amuse ourselves with insects and bugs a lot more than kids do today. I used to bring my pet lime green spiders in matchboxes to school to challenge some other classmate’s spiders in duels. I have not seen those light green spiders in over 30 years. At home, we used to hang around empty lots nearby and catch crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, dragonflies, butterflies, etc. We had no video games, or internet, or cell phones, and barely any malls. I don’t think I have seen a dragonfly in the city for several years now. So on a recent short trip up North to Baguio, I was pleased to see many dragonflies near the rice fields of central luzon. I even managed to capture these photos despite the skittish nature of this medium sized dragonfly…


While I don’t see these insects as often anymore, with a few clicks of my mouse and a second or two of searching on the internet, I now know these are the adult form of waterborne larvae. Several googled sources Wikipedia and the British Dragonfly Society of explain that these bug-eyed creatures are actually smaller now than they used to be, in pre-historic times they could have nearly two-feet wingspans! And one interesting factoid is that in water, the larvae breath through gills and propel themselves by shooting air out of their rectum… Fart propulsion. :) I used to spend hours just observing and trying to catch dragonflies as a kid, sneaking up on them from behind and using my thumb and forefinger to gently pinch their tails as they flapped their wings wildly. It probably isn’t PC to do this anymore as we are so much more friendly to our bugs… but I miss those days. Once I got these shots, I put my camera down and tried to catch this particular dragonfly. Folks I was traveling with were in the car, probably wondering what the heck I was doing in a rice field ducking here and there, bobbing up and down. After just a few hops (did you know dragonflies can’t walk, despite having 6 legs?), I DID catch the dragonfly, haven’t lost that skill. I let it go immediately after.


Then just minutes later, speeding on the new Macapagal highway, I watched as a relatively large dragonfly tried to cross the highway at low altitude, and in a flash it smacked into our windshield, splattered to bits, and parts of it were stuck on our wiper. If you look closely, its wings are still stuck on the wiper. Oops.



  1. kittel says:

    First post…yehey…I used to catch a lot of Dragonflies back when I was a kid.This was in fact an afternoon pasttime for me. Even though we lived in Iloilo City, back then there was a lot of Dragonflies around. Sadly, now its rare to see dragonflies in the city. The last time I saw one was when I was in Mambukal Resort in Murcia,Negros Oriental.Wow, that was about a year ago. Thanks Marketman for letting me think about going on vacation. I need it, if only to see the dragonflies again.

    Jun 26, 2010 | 8:05 am


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  3. jack says:

    what a sad sorry for that large dragonfly :(

    we were surrounded with rice fields in the province and as a child we got to see dragon flies, grass hoppers, bugs (“salaginto”) and even fire flies. i remember catching dragon flies using a “walis tingting” (how do you say that in english?)… you trap them with the ‘walis tingting” not to kill or hurt them but as gently as possible to just catch them alive. after a few minutes of playing with them (look at how many eyes they have in their “two big eyes”), we set them free.

    and oh, last March when we’re in Jalajala, Rizal, my sister spotted a (red) dragon fly and took some pictures of it. :)

    Jun 26, 2010 | 8:12 am

  4. meh says:

    ah MM, you’re right dragonflies aren’t abundant anymore, and your explanation of the dragonfly’s life cycle hints at why numbers are declining. It’s the water. Dragonfly nymphs are aquatic, and many species can only survive in high-quality, clean water. Pollute the water source, or cover it up with concrete, and you lose the dragonflies :( Nature is all connected….

    Jun 26, 2010 | 8:18 am

  5. Footloose says:

    Fart propulsion, I suspect, would be akin to being hoisted by one’s own petard.

    Jun 26, 2010 | 8:21 am

  6. Rona Y says:

    The first shot there is great! What kind of lens did you use?

    Jun 26, 2010 | 8:25 am

  7. ragamuffin girl says:

    lots of dragonflies at HK Park in Admiralty, where the turtle pond is. I used to love catching them, tadpoles too! And eating aratellis straight out of trees and the sweet sap from santan flowers. those were the days! i wish my kids wouldn’t be so squeamish about bugs and dirt etc…being a city kid sure has its disadvantages (count exposure to all things electronic as number one on that list!)

    Jun 26, 2010 | 8:30 am

  8. FestiveRebel says:

    After that statement about Fart propulsion and then you started to state… “I used to spend hours”… uh oh, i thought you are going to say “practicing it!” Anyway there was that image of you in the water that popped up in my mind, yikes…

    Jun 26, 2010 | 8:36 am

  9. Melanie says:

    I’m into raising butterflies as a hobby these days. In the past, I used to squish the caterpillars in our calamansi trees, annoyed at how ravenous they were in defoliating the plants. That was until I visited a butterfly supplier in Bulacan and saw how he raised them [a different species from the citrus kind is grown for release in events like weddings, debuts,etc]…from caterpillars to pupae then to butterflies. Nowadays when I spot a ‘wild’ citrus shrub in public places, I’m sure I look weird going through the branches/leaves for caterpillars I can bring home to raise into the winged delights! Oh, and lest the nature lovers worry over ‘incarcerated’ butterflies, I release them into my garden to flit about and live their short lives amongst the flowers, whilst giving joy to me and my family!

    Jun 26, 2010 | 8:59 am

  10. millet says:


    Jun 26, 2010 | 9:19 am

  11. Amiel says:

    I’m curious.. what car do you drive??

    Jun 26, 2010 | 9:25 am

  12. Isa Garchitorena says:

    I was once driving from LA to Vegas during the painted lade butterfly migration and they were hitting our windshield and there was no way to avoid them. Such big butterflies left big yellow mustard like splotches all over everyone’s cars! It is great that you can still have these experiences and find wonder in nature. I talk to kids all the time here who say they’ve never seen a hawk and my standard answer? “Look up sometime! I see them every single day!”

    Jun 26, 2010 | 10:10 am

  13. kitchen says:

    When i was a kid i catch dragon flies and my mom would tease me this. “tutubu tutubi wag ka mag pahuli sa batang mapanghi” hahaha i keep on chasing the dragon fly my mom is noisy.

    Jun 26, 2010 | 10:42 am

  14. Mom-Friday says:

    We’re lucky that in our neighborhood, also considered as a bird sanctuary, we are still able to chance upon a few dragonflies, lots of birds, bees and beetles. We did not catch any dragonflies lately but instead, caught an injured beetle (salagubang) with a torn wing. The kids had it placed it in a tetarium which eventually died a few weeks later :( maybe we should have left it alone…

    Jun 26, 2010 | 1:21 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Isa, it’s funny, but the fascination has really picked up again in the last few years. I guess things are so techy these days, there is a hankering for more natural experiences, hahaha, but you would NEVER catch me camping in a tent in the wilderness, thanks. :) Amiel, it’s a couple of years old Ford Escape, nothing fancy. FestiveRebel, too funny, no I have not tested the fart propulsion mode of swimming. Rona Y, I use a Canon G10, mostly on auto mode, no fancy lenses…

    Jun 26, 2010 | 2:57 pm

  16. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Crickets, Spiders, Dragon fly, Rhinoceros beetles, Preying mantis…..those were the fun days (the 60’s for me)!!!! ;->

    Jun 26, 2010 | 3:13 pm

  17. corrine says:

    Hahaha…nahahalata ang edad natin! Kitchen, that’s my mom’s chant too. I would catch the dragonfly using walis tingting as I am too afraid to catch it with my bare hands! Either I catch it alive or beheaded. I love the tutubing karayom as they come in fascinating colors! Amazing how these simple pleasures beguiled us when we were kids. I pity my kids who aren’t familiar with these wonderful creatures. Now, I only see butterflies in cages..in places where they are bred. Whereas before, they are everywhere for us to admire. :)

    Jun 26, 2010 | 3:45 pm

  18. natie says:

    I share the same enjoyment with insects and bugs as a child…mid ’50s for me, Artisan..i can still remember shaking tree limbs for brown and green beetles.

    Jun 26, 2010 | 6:21 pm

  19. ros says:

    One variety (the bigger ones) reminds me that its already autumn on other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. They usually fly around late-August throughout September.

    I really appreciate these subtle seasonal changes in this tropical country of ours. Much like the booming noise of the cicadas during summer; the mid-year blooming of the acacias, fire-trees, and tamarinds (perfect for sinampalukang-manok at the start of the monsoon season); and even the turning of poinsettias during the chilly holiday season.

    Thanks for sharing MM. :)

    Jun 26, 2010 | 7:44 pm

  20. bertN says:

    Until I rea d your post, I have forgotten the fun time I had when I was a kid catching these dragonflies (with my forefinger and thumb, like you do) and letting them go after a brief moment of triumph.

    Jun 26, 2010 | 8:43 pm

  21. bearhug0127 says:

    MM, thanks for bringing back those happy childhood memories.. Used to catch them myself when i was a kid growing up in Iloilo. And oh, those fireflies too!

    Jun 26, 2010 | 9:27 pm

  22. EbbaBlue says:

    I have been squeezing (by hand) the “green-worms”in my brocolli plants. This is my first year to plant these and I wanted it to be pesticide free. Are these green worms same as the butterfly-caterpillars? If so, now I am torn between letting these bugs eat my entire square foot garden and see them become butterfly, or should I continue to manually eradicate them and eat my brocolli.

    I do love tutubi also, and most other bugs. My younger daughter has same penchant, but my older one is afraid of anything that flies or crawl. My hubby is scared of spiders, and I always scares him of one, when I catches it with my bare hands. Sometimes I use it a threat when he is being not-so nice to me. I don’t know, I am just not scared of insects. Lizards I don’t like.

    Jun 26, 2010 | 9:52 pm

  23. Mari says:

    Our childhood memories…..priceless!

    Jun 26, 2010 | 10:39 pm

  24. Chris Davis says:

    Funny, I have just come back from visiting the in-laws in FL where they had dragonflies in profusion. It would have been unseemly though, for a grown woman to be seen scampering about in public chasing tutubi like a madwoman, but I was sorely tempted.

    Ebba, when the choice came between my little garden and the little caterpillars, my garden always won out. Sorry, I’ve worked too hard and would like to see fruits of my labor. I strive to be organic and pesticide free as to not kill things indiscriminately (I learned that the hard way) so if I see you during the morning and evening inspection and you’re not supposed to be there — snip! Oh, wasps are welcome in my garden- great pollinators and pest-control.

    Jun 26, 2010 | 10:42 pm

  25. betty q. says:

    Ebba: next time, if you want to plant broccoli or any brassicas, interplant those with CELERY. Celery is what you might call a GUARD PLANT when it comes to brassicas….and it works!!!! It does its job against those worms and those white butterflies that lay thier eggs on the broccoli or cauliflower. Not only do the celery provide protection but you can eat the celery too when they mature. There are sooooo many “guard plants” that you can use….green onions interplanted with carrots against carrot rust fly, etc…..NO NEED FOR CHEMICALLY INDUCED things to use.

    Yup, MM…those were the days as the song goes! We still see dragonflies here too in my backyard and once in a while I would creep up as silently as I can and still try to catch them and letting them go too in a few seconds and my boys think I am nuts!

    Jun 26, 2010 | 11:20 pm

  26. farida says:

    bettyq…interesting. what would be a good guard plant for roses to prevent aphid infestation. I have tried garlic but that does not seem to work. How are you? are we still on for meeting sometime soon?

    yes, i remember those days catching the dragonflies, playing with the beetles, not the rhino ones though. Scared of them. Catching tadpoles and also fireflies and putting them in a bottle and enjoying how they lit up. Yup, gone are those days. And I don’t see or hear the frogs anymore whenever I go home to visit. Is this because of the pesticides commonly used now?

    Jun 26, 2010 | 11:47 pm

  27. JunB says:

    Tutubing karayom, tutubing kalabaw, tipaklong, salagubang …. yeah those are the days that I will spend hours with my friends cathing bugs in a vacant lot.

    Nowadays you have to pay for a class for the kids to socialize (playgroup) which is basically free during our time !!!!!

    Jun 26, 2010 | 11:51 pm

  28. kurzhaar says:

    Ebba, bettyq is right–celery works well to repel those butterflies. They are probably “cabbage whites”, a very common species that lays eggs on plants in the cabbage family, including broccoli (and more to my taste kale and rapini), and don’t worry–they are in no danger of extinction! And since commercially grown celery is often contaminated with chemical pesticides, you’ll have the benefit of organically grown celery. I do tend to allow one caterpillar to survive to adulthood, since they are fascinating to watch through their growth cycle. So I generally leave one cabbage white caterpillar and one tomato hornworm to mature. And when I have monarch caterpillars, I leave all of them alone…they feed on my fennel plants and there is plenty to share.

    Farida–to get rid of aphids, try these steps. First, wash off as many aphids as you can with
    a strong spray of water, which should get rid of most of them.

    You can follow up with one of the following (but do NOT combine at the same time as these aren’t compatible with each other): treat with soap or with predatory insects. You can use Safer’s pesticidal soap or even just a solution of a mild natural soap (something made with natural oils such as olive or coconut oil, with no additives like perfumes or coloring agents). Soap solutions work on most soft-bodied insects such as aphids or caterpillars and even ants. Aphids are commonly found with ants that seem to “protect” the aphids from other insects, because ants feed on aphid excretions. So if you have ants as well as aphids, spraying with a soap solution would be a way of dealing with both.

    An alternative is to introduce ladybugs and ladybug larvae. The larvae are usually black with red or orange spots and sort of look like alligators (they are elongated with huge jaws). They’ll get right to work killing the aphids and are amazingly efficient. If you can get other predatory insects like lacewings or parasitic wasps, those work as well. But the ladybug larvae are more fun to watch. :)

    Jun 27, 2010 | 3:19 am

  29. betty q. says:

    Farida….Kurzhaar’s soap solution works! An old gentleman gardener friend at the community garden here where I have 6 plots once told me to use DISHWASHING SOAP…a few drops to 1 litre WATER in a squirt bottle…and really aim it at the aphids. You will not kill them…don’t worry about it. You will just give them stomach trouble and they will leave your roses alone! Do this at least once a week. I used to use Safer’s (the only one allowed in the community garden) but it can be costly over time. The main ingredients in those Safer’s bottle is basically the same as ordinary dishwashing soap solution. They guy who thought of bottling this soap solution is raking in the big bucks!

    Jun 27, 2010 | 5:38 am

  30. EbbaBlue says:

    Thanks Kurzhaar and Betty q for the tip. Yesterday I went out again with my 6 yr. old grandson and we squeezed some of those worms including the white looking eggs, the small ones for him are ok, but the bigger ones, he became squeamish and said he stopped. I also noticed some black looking eggs, I don’t know if they are just dirt, but the shape are really rounded that I think I got another infestation, oh well, how i wish those brocolli get to be the size that I can pick them so I don’t have to deal with these crawling worms. I do love butterfly, I tried to take a picture of one with black wings & with yellow spots in Quezon province, but it was so swift.

    When I had aphids in my roses, yeah, I just spray them with my hose… but in my younger years in Sampaloc, somebody told me to blow smoke in them..so I started to learn how to smoke cigarette and I told my mom it is for those aphids.. Luckily I did not continue with this habit.. and I am even allergic to any kind of smoke.

    Jun 27, 2010 | 8:57 pm

  31. kurzhaar says:

    Farida, if you have only a few plants, take a washcloth or other soft rag, wet it with a soapy solution (natural oil-based soap, not detergent) and wipe the eggs off the plants.

    Tobacco is extremely toxic to insects (humans too!) and spraying a tobacco extract on plants is one way of killing insects…but it’s just too nasty for me to recommend, it kills all insects including the good ones and you would never spray it on plants you plan on eating.

    Then again, if it’s only a few caterpillars, maybe you can afford to let them be. :) I am a big advocate of leaving weeds and bugs alone to some extent–there’s a ecological function for all of these and the policy of the last century of exterminating everything that is a “weed” or “pest” is not sustainable, especially on an industrial scale. Having “weeds” and bugs around keeps things balanced–weeds are often a food source or habitat for the “good” bugs such as pollinators and predatory insects.

    Good luck! It’s great to hear of others growing their own food! :)

    Jun 28, 2010 | 12:51 am

  32. wil-b says:

    nice photos MM :)

    Jun 28, 2010 | 8:46 am

  33. Ley says:

    As a kid, I was skilled in catching dragonflies. I still have it now:)

    Jun 28, 2010 | 9:03 am

  34. jakbkk says:

    tell me where i can see FIREFLIES in Luzon or the Philippines?

    Jun 28, 2010 | 12:05 pm

  35. Blaise says:

    Here in the south of the metro, I could still see dragonflies fly around once in a while. They used to be in abundance, there were a lot of tutubing karayom and tutubing kalabaw, in different colors.

    Me and my cousins would catch them with their wings with our two fingers. Oh, those were the days! Summers then were not as hot as it is now.

    Jun 28, 2010 | 12:40 pm

  36. atbnorge says:

    @jackbkk, we have fireflies in the hills of Antipolo (not in town, though). In our small farm between Antipolo and Teresa, I once saw a small sampaloc tree in the evening lit up with thousands of fireflies, it was amazing!

    Dragonflies…love them to bits! I and my childhood friend Mila skewered them with tingting then barbecued them, hehehe…Then I said to Mila “Eat or we’re no longer friends!” I love the red dragonflies which we called “tutubing karayom”, I haven’t seen them for more than two decades now…I and my elder brother went spider hunting and foraged whatever wild fruits we could find—macopa, bignay, bayabas, mansanitas, and susong kalabaw!

    Jun 28, 2010 | 4:20 pm

  37. deedee says:

    two dead ones last week. One hanging from a lace curtain at home and the other one on top of my office table.

    Jun 29, 2010 | 8:04 am

  38. denise says:

    hi MM! how’s the vacation? we still have lots of dragonflies in our subdivision in lower antipolo, the big red ones, the greens, the blues, and the tiny red ones…but normally more during a wet summer

    atbnorge…our neighbor had a sampaloc tree back in the early 90s who was also a host to several hundred fireflies, it was a surreal sight during those notorious “brown-out” spells

    Jun 30, 2010 | 3:15 am

  39. jakbkk says:

    thanks to ATBNORGE and DENISE….guess i’ll have to ask around regarding Sampaloc trees….

    Jun 30, 2010 | 12:19 pm

  40. jakbkk says:

    thanks to ATBNORGE and DENISE….guess i’ll have to ask around regarding Sampaloc trees….

    Jun 30, 2010 | 12:19 pm

  41. Redge says:

    About 2 decades ago I used to catch dragonflies and damselflies of varied colors (the red dragonflies and blue damselflies were the most beautiful). I put them inside a glass jar, wrap plastic film on top, poke holes on it and put rubber band around the lid.

    I also remember catching tadpoles, salagubang, caterpillars, tiny frogs, and guppies in the clear canals.

    Oh, it was wonderful back then!

    I wish my “future” children could still enjoy the childhood that I had…

    Jun 30, 2010 | 9:57 pm

  42. iya says:

    i went to a friend’s farm in tagaytay and i saw lots of dragonflies with brightpink and bright blue bodies. ganda!

    Jul 1, 2010 | 4:25 pm

  43. atbnorge says:

    “Tutubi, tutubi, huwag kang pahuhuli sa batang mapanghi!” went our chant when distracting a friend from catching a dragonfly.

    Jul 2, 2010 | 2:26 am


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