My very personal large dragonfly, chanced upon in a charity store
just lately and now residing in my examine (© Dr Karl Shuker)

This ShukerNature weblog article of mine
paperwork an entomological enigma of the cryptozoological type that has lengthy
fascinated, me however which I’ve by no means beforehand blogged about. Particularly, the extraordinary
risk that extra-large dragonflies, veritable giants in some instances, exist
unrecognised by science in our modern-day world. Consequently, I’ve gathered
right here an unique number of such stories in your perusal. To start with,
nevertheless, I might wish to set the scene for them by presenting a few comparable
examples plucked from conventional folklore and medieval fancy.



On 16 August 2015, I documented right here on
ShukerNature (and subsequently redocumented in expanded kind inside the first
of my ShukerNature compendium books, ShukerNature E book 1: Antlered Elephants, Locust
Dragons, and Different Cryptic Weblog Beasts
, 2019), an enchanting however completely baffling
centuries-old engraving illustrating a mysterious beast so weird in
look that I dubbed it the locust dragon (click on right here
to view my unique weblog article regarding it).

The unique supply of this particular
engraving was a sequence of prints produced in Antwerp, Belgium, by Flemish
engraver Nicolaes de Bruyn (1571-1656) in 1594 that depicted numerous flying

Though he’s greatest identified for his many
biblically-themed engravings and his giant engraved landscapes reproducing
designs and work by different artists, de Bruyn produced roughly 400
works in complete, together with a quantity that featured animals.


Nicolaes de Bruyn’s
mystifying engraving from 1594, depicting a variety of readily-identifiable
bugs, plus what can solely be described as a really weird ‘locust dragon’
(public area)

The sequence containing the locust dragon was
entitled Volatilium Varii Generis Effigies (‘Footage of Flying Creatures
of Assorted Varieties’), and was first printed by Ahasuerus van Londerseel
(1572-1635) of Amsterdam.

It was subsequently reissued (with van
Londerseel’s identify neatly trimmed off!) by Carel Allard in 1663 (or shortly
after – there are conflicting accounts regarding this element).

My investigation of what the locust dragon
may conceivably have been attracted quite a lot of replies from readers, posted
beneath my weblog article, together with one whose topic was completely new to me and
very intriguing.

Posted on 30 August 2015 by a reader with
the memorable Google username Dracula van Helsing, it talked about that de Bruyn’s
grotesque locust dragon reminded him of a legend from Cantabria, a area in
northern Spain, regarding sure horse-like demonic dragonflies often called
Caballucos (aka Caballitos) del Diablu (‘little horses of the satan’, regardless of
being mentioned to be at the very least as massive as actual horses!).


Large mannequin of a southern damselfly Coenagrion mercuriale, a really eyecatching species of slender-bodied
dragonfly native to Britain and several other nations throughout mainland Europe (© Dr
Karl Shuker)

Right here is Wikipedia’s then-current entry on
these very intriguing but little-known legendary beasts, which has since been
reworded considerably and expanded (see additionally beneath), however was initially derived
from Manuel
Merino’s e book Mitos y Leyendas de Cantabria, printed in 2001:

On St John’s Eve (June 23), when the folks
make bonfires to purify their souls, large dragonflies seem amongst the
ashes. These dragonflies – the Caballucos – are the souls of sinners, and so they
come to launch their fury over a yr’s value of sins with hearth and terrifying


The Caballucos del Diablu seem in a
number of colours, each being the soul of a special sinner. The pink horse
was a person who lent cash to farmers after which used soiled methods to steal their
properties; the white one a miller who stole many hundreds of {dollars} from his
grasp; the black one a hermit who performed methods on folks; the yellow one a
corrupt decide; the blue one an innkeeper; and the orange one a baby who abused
his mother and father.



near an enormous damselfly! (© Dr Karl Shuker)


And right here is that this entry’s current model, i.e. as of
at present, 28 November 2023:


On St John’s Eve (June 23)
at night time; when the folks make bonfires to purify their souls, horses
(Percheron purebred) with damselfly wings [damselflies are slender-bodied
dragonfly species], black manes and foaming mouths seem amongst the ashes.
These stallions – the Caballucos – are the souls of sinners, damned to roam
Cantabria for eternity, come to launch their fury over a yr’s value of sins,
making a rumbling explosion with hearth accompanied by terrifying screams. 


The Caballucos del Diablu
seem in quite a lot of colours, each being the soul of a special sinner,
as legends spotlight. The pink horse was a person who lent cash to farmers and
then used soiled methods to steal their properties; the white one a miller who
stole many hundreds of {dollars} from his grasp; the black one a hermit who
performed methods on folks; the yellow one a corrupt decide; the blue one an
innkeeper; and the orange one a baby who abused his mother and father;[1] the inexperienced one a lord who possessed
many lands and dishonoured loads of younger ladies. It’s mentioned that the Satan
himself roams the streets driving the pink fire-breathing steed, the sturdiest
and strongest who leads the raid, whereas different demons experience the remainder. The
drive of their stomping is such that their horseshoes go away prints on rocks, as
in the event that they had been freshly ploughed soil. They’ve gleaming eyes, and blow a robust
wind with their nostrils to strive impeding lovers from giving corsages to the
women. The huffs, as chilly as winter, are robust sufficient to make leaves fall from
bushes and bushes. The horses’s meals are shamrocks, with they eat tastefully,
most likely to stop the seekers who come out at night time from discovering any. The
Caballucos pounce on everybody they arrive throughout, the one issues that repels
them is a bunch of vervain that the individual can carry alongside; the plant needs to be
collected the day earlier than although, or must be positioned subsequent to St John’s hearth, to
which they gained’t come close to. The locals be aware that typically, after turning into worn
out by the search, the Caballucos cease to relaxation and their saliva drips on the
floor, and turns into gold ingots. Whoever takes them will likely be made extraordinarily
rich, however will descent straight to hell after dying. 


aspect of
a stele
(carved upright stone) from San Vicente de Toranzo (Cantabria), depicting a
ridden Cabulluco del Diablu, and displayed on the Museum of Prehistory and
Archaeology of Cantabria, Spain (© Valdavia/Wikipedia –
CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)


But though large dragonflies of equine look would
undoubtedly be eyecatching in their very own proper if such creatures ever existed in
actuality versus mere mythology, they might not bear any tangible
resemblance to the enigmatic entity upon which my locust dragon investigations
have been centered.


Apparently, what has been described by some writers as
a four-legged, horse-headed dragonfly can also be portrayed within the Luttrell
, an English illuminated manuscript relationship from c.1325-1340.


Nonetheless, as can readily be perceived right here, the
illustration of this incongruous insect bears no resemblance to these of the
locust dragon.



A four-legged, horse-headed dragonfly
depicted within the Luttrell Psalter (public area)

that’s nonetheless not all so far as controversial large dragonflies or
dragonfly-like thriller beasts of the decidedly daunting type are involved.



of the fantastical lands visited by doctor Dr Lemuel Gulliver in Jonathan
Swift’s well-known satirical fantasy novel Gulliver’s
(1726) is Brobdingnag, a distant, hitherto-unexplored peninsula of
the western USA, whose human inhabitants and wildlife are all of gigantic

in actual life the adjective ‘Brobdingnagian’ is usually utilized to something of
terribly giant measurement – and will subsequently be positively utilized in
relation to sure stories within the cryptozoology archives of supposedly actual
however unequivocally outsized dragonflies.


A portray of
Gulliver being inspected by one of many giants of Brobdingnag – be aware the
monumental wasp within the foreground! (public area)

Considered one of
these was posted on Lon Strickler’s Phantoms and Monsters web site, and reads as follows:

Me and my youthful brother
noticed an enormous dragonfly spanning properly over a foot and half lengthy in Bolton, England
in 2002. It will need to have been over an inch in diameter as properly on the centre. I
would have questioned myself however because it was witnessed by another person too. I’m
fairly positive it wasn’t simply me seeing issues. Generally I feel was it an RC [radio/remote-controlled]
helicopter? However no manner might it transfer with such swiftness, agility and silence
particularly with 2002 expertise. I went to the Manchester museum and checked
with the insect specialists and so they mentioned it sounds such as you’ve seen one thing from
the prehistoric and that no species of dragonfly that exist at present are that
giant. It’s not an enormous hen however has anybody ever seen these large
dragonflies? I might love some affirmation some extra witnesses throughout the

years after this sighting, two comparable ones had been posted on-line within the discussion board
of the Charles Fort Institute’s web site on the exact same day, 25 July 2004. One
of those was posted by somebody I do know personally, a well-respected naturalist
named Oll Lewis. Right here is his usually matter-of-fact account of his encounter,
which happened within the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales:

I’ve seen a big
dragonfly earlier than, I stay close to a big nation park with 2 large lakes and
in depth reed beds so if there have been a perfect place for dragonfly and damselfly
recognizing, that is it. The biggest dragonfly I noticed was in Cosmeston Lakes
Nation Park [and] had a wingspan of at the very least 1/2 a meter [50 cm] skimming over
the floor of the lake about 3 metres from the financial institution. It was brownish yellow in
color and other than its measurement fairly unremarkable.


subsequently discovered from Oll that he had reported his sighting to a
university-based entomology professor, who blithely discounted it. The
longest-bodied dragonfly native to the UK is the golden-ringed dragonfly Cordulegaster boltonii, whose slender
elongate physique can attain nearly 8.5 cm lengthy in grownup females with fully-formed
ovipositors, and whose wingspan will be as a lot as 10 cm, The biggest UK
dragonfly species when it comes to wingspan is the emperor dragonfly Anax imperator, whose physique averages
round 8 cm lengthy however its wingspan is as much as 10.5 cm. Nonetheless, these species’
spectacular dimensions nonetheless fall far wanting these for the 2 thriller British
specimens described above.

second Charles Fort Institute discussion board report was posted by a contributor with the
username laphip. Right here it’s:

After I was round 9
years previous me and my two sisters watched a dragonfly with a physique about half a
metre lengthy circle round our yard simply above the peak of our bungalow (in
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). Once we advised our mother about it, she simply mentioned it
should’ve been a toy airplane formed like a dragonfly. It seemed fairly naturally an
insect to me, and it made no sound. Would a dragonfly of that measurement make or not
make noise in flight? Can toy distant managed planes be soundless?

Because of
their speedy aerial actions and continuous hawking, the dimensions of those bugs
is notoriously troublesome to gauge precisely, particularly by eyewitnesses not
acquainted with them. So overestimation of measurement wouldn’t be troublesome. Having
mentioned that, the above-noted mentions of distant/radio-controlled plane could
properly be related, particularly in mild of an surprising however fascinating
discovery that I made just lately, and which I will reveal later right here.

Golden ringed dragonfly Cordulegaster boltonii, male (© Charles
J Sharp/Wikipedi –
CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

One other
report, forwarded to me in 2001 by Unusual Journal‘s founding editor,
the late Mark Chorvinsky, consists of a report e-mailed to him by correspondent
Victor Engel. It reads as follows:

It’s possible you’ll be thinking about an expedition I plan on this summer time. In
Might/June 1974 whereas driving by Mexico, I noticed the biggest dragonfly I’ve
ever seen. On the time I estimated its wingspan at 14 inches. Since that point,
I’ve not significantly looked for it once more, however I’ve accomplished some analysis. I’ve
contacted dragonfly specialists and different insect specialists. The overall consensus in
the scientific neighborhood is that whereas there was once dragonflies of that
measurement, and, in truth, even bigger, they do not, and can’t exist at present. The rationale
cited for believing they can not exist at present is that the oxygen content material of the
environment is simply too low to assist the excessive metabolism required for the dragonfly
to catch its prey. Then I acquired in contact with Dr Gilbert, of the College of
Texas at Austin, who’s doing analysis with imported hearth ants and their
parasitic phorid flies. He gave me two properly thought-out lists. One was a listing
of all of the explanation why such a dragonfly can not exist. The opposite was a listing of
explanation why such an insect might probably exist. Anyway, I am so satisfied at
what I noticed within the 70s that now I am making a particular journey simply to search out one
once more.

Engel accurately mentions, again in historical prehistoric instances there have been dragonflies
– or, to be exact, dragonfly-resembling bugs – that had been even greater than
the dimensions estimate supplied by him for his Mexican thriller specimen. These
veritable giants are often called griffinflies, in homage to these legendary winged
monsters the griffins, Initially housed along with the true dragonflies and
damselflies inside the taxonomic order Odonata, griffinflies are these days
housed in a separate, extinct order, Meganisoptera.


Griffinfly in prehistoric
scene, classic illustration (public area)

fossil stays of Meganeura monyi, a dragonfly that lived roughly
300 million years in the past through the late Carboniferous Period in what’s at present
France, point out that it sported a spectacular wingspan of as much as 29.5 in.

Meganeuropsis permiana, dwelling throughout
the early Permian Period, sported a comparable wingspan, thereby making these the
largest insect species, previous or current, at the moment identified to science.

Large blue damselfly Megalopropus caeruleata (© Katja Schulz/Wikipedia
CC BY 2.0 licence)

conversely, the biggest Odonata member is the large blue damselfly Megalopropus
, a damselfly native to Central and South America, whose wingspan
measures as much as 7.52 in, and whose physique size is as much as 4.72 in. Therefore Engel’s
specimen, if precisely estimated, would have a wingspan twice this.

In a
JournalnewsOnline article of 15 February 2022, veteran thriller beast
investigator Brent Swancer recalled being advised by a supposed large dragonfly
eyewitness that he and a good friend had been climbing collectively by Florida’s
well-known Everglades Nationwide Park on a transparent day once they noticed what appeared at
first to be a hen, however then they noticed that it had 4 beating wings, not two, and
that its metallic inexperienced physique was very elongate, measuring over 1 ft lengthy.
Furthermore, as they watched, the creature got here shut sufficient for them to discern
the multi-faceted type of its eyes, as characteristically exhibited by the
compound eyes of grownup bugs, hovering in entrance of them for a second earlier than
it swooped off once more, its flight completely silent all through.


well-known that the tracheal-based respiratory system of bugs, whose
inside community of minute cell-penetrating, air-transporting tubes is barely
able to transporting oxygen over tiny distances, precludes these creatures
from attaining the gargantuan sizes beloved of sci-fi film makers, and even from
these attained by the long-demised griffinflies, because the oxygen content material of the
environment that existed manner again of their time was a lot larger than it’s
at present.

this in thoughts, subsequently, what on earth – or anyplace else, for that matter! –
can we are saying in regards to the completely ginormous dragonfly lookalikes {that a} reader
with the username PoeticsOfBigfoot posting to the cryptozoology web site
Cryptomundo on 28 June 2013 claimed to have noticed over a prolonged interval one
night in, fittingly, Texas?

Large bugs are extra frequent within the Southwest than folks
understand. I noticed large dragonfly-like bugs round sunset close to Terlingua TX
as soon as. I estimate they had been eight ft lengthy or so, with about the identical wingspan.
That they had some form of lengthy whip-like appendage at their posterior finish, a little bit
longer than their our bodies, that arced upward. I noticed three of them over a
two-hour time span.

Confronted by
a monster dragonfly sculpture of really monstrous proportions in Wroclaw, Poland
Przybyszewski/Wikipedia –
CC BY 3.0 licence)

dragonflies do possess a pair of claspers on the tip of their most posterior
stomach phase, and females bear a single circus there, however these are
nowhere close to so long as the bugs’ our bodies. So too did griffinflies, however with
the identical proviso. Furthermore, for the respiratory causes talked about above, an
8-ft-long insect dwelling at present, most particularly one as metabolically energetic as a
fast-flying dragonfly, could be a physiological impossibility.

even when it wasn’t, such a spectacular, readily seen entity native to North
America would assuredly have been found, described, and totally documented
by science way back. So though dragonflies are predatory, I would not fear
unduly about being dive-bombed any time quickly by the terrorflies of Terlingua!

after all, this titanic trio had winged their approach to Texas from Brobdingnag’s
secluded peninsula??? Gulliver’s outstanding travels and his quite a few
hair-raising experiences throughout them had so reworked his persona that
after he lastly returned safely residence, he grew to become a recluse. After encountering
monsters like these, are you able to blame him??


Fictional large
dragonfly with lengthy whip-like posterior course of just like the three 8-ft-long Texas
specimens (public area)

nevertheless, I’ve just lately discovered to my shock however delight that big
radio-controlled dragonfly fashions not solely exist however be readily bought on
sure web sites – so may these fascinating fliers clarify such sightings, together with
laphip’s famous earlier right here, particularly in the event that they had been spied in dim mild
situations? Then once more, eyewitnesses of such creatures have typically claimed that
their flight was completely silent, thus
suggesting that they weren’t remote-controlled
plane or drones in spite of everything.

In brief, until we dismiss all such
stories as involving hoaxes, misidentifications of non-insect aerial creatures,
or exaggerated measurement estimates of bona fide dragonflies, the thriller of those
large flying bugs stays very a lot up within the air – as certainly do they!

my expanded protection of the locust dragon, make sure you try  ShukerNature
E book 1
, whose entrance cowl sports activities a stunning
full-colour portray by longstanding good friend and very good artist Anthony Partitions, in
which he portrays me with mentioned locust dragon perching contentedly on my



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