Chasing Dragonflies: A Natural, Cultural, and Personal History is an engaging, beautifully illustrated introduction to these remarkable insects. Drawing on her experiences as a natural history instructor, dragonfly monitor, cancer survivor, grandmother, and steward, Crosby tells the stories of dragonflies: their roles in poetry and art, their fascinating sex life—unique within the animal kingdom—and their evolution from dark-water dwellers to denizens of the air. We follow Crosby and other citizen-scientists into the prairies, wetlands, and woodlands of the Midwest, where they observe the environment and chronicle dragonfly populations and migration to decipher critical clues about our changing waterways and climate.
Woven throughout are personal stories: reflections on the author’s cancer diagnosis and recovery, change, loss, aging, family, joy, and discovering what it means to be at home in the natural world. Crosby draws an intimate portrait of a landscape teeming with variety and mystery, one that deserves our attention and conservation. As warm as it is informative, this book will interest gardeners, readers of literary nonfiction, and anyone intrigued by transformation, whether in nature or our personal lives.
About the Author
CINDY CROSBY is the author of The Tallgrass Prairie: An Introduction (Northwestern University Press, 2017). She is a natural history instructor in the Chicago region who coordinates dragonfly monitoring programs at the Morton Arboretum and Nachusa Grasslands, a Nature Conservancy site.
PEGGY MACNAMARA is the artist in residence at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History.
"Chasing Dragonflies is an engaging introduction to the Lilliputian world of these ancient creatures. Cindy Crosby reverently weaves their natural history into our modern lives, providing the reader with a better sense of self and place. Her writing is as delightful, and as fresh, as a teneral damselfly." —Marla Garrison, McHenry County College, author of Field Guide to Damselflies of Chicagoland
"Anyone who loves nature should have this delightful and educational book, written by a naturalist who has learned so much and has so much to teach the rest of us. After reading this book, you may just agree that dragonflies are the most interesting creatures on Planet Earth." —Dennis Paulson, Slater Museum of Natural History, author of Dragonflies and Damselflies: A Natural History
"This delightful book, built with personal, passionate prose, is an inspiration. Crosby's dragonfly wanderings and observations make me want to get up and get out there. A delightful and informative read." —Kurt Mead, author of Dragonflies of the North Woods
"Chasing Dragonflies is so beautifully written that it satisfied my ecologist mind and naturalist heart . . . Crosby conveys a sense of wonder and urgency in both monitoring and protecting the habitat of the odes. There is both a sense of peace and of purpose throughout the book that is inspiring and encouraging." —Marianne Denton, Argia
"Crosby’s writing describes a path of self-discovery, ecological study, and organismal biology, and thus, it speaks to readers across disciplines, whether those readers find themselves crawling, swimming, or simply sitting still in pursuit of dragonflies." —Jessica Ware, Center for Humans & Nature
"[A] lucid, companionable, and handsomely illustrated guide . . . I loved the book, which made me think of countless walks with Wendy, my wife, at the Morton Arboretum and elsewhere, and the delight we have taken in these creatures." —John Wilson, First Things
“Interesting, informative, funny, and at times so moving I had to wipe reluctant tears . . . Chasing Dragonflies is a book I want to tell others about and yet fear it will seem to obscure, too dainty. Trust me. This is a great read.” —Byron Borger, Hearts & Minds Books