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25 Dramatic Dragonfly Nicknames From Around the U.S.

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We have many reasons to love dragonflies. They look cool, eat mosquitoes—and have some nifty nicknames across the U.S. In our continued partnership with the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), we bring you 25 dramatic dragonfly designations from around the country.

1., 2., AND 3. DEVIL’S DARNING NEEDLE, DARNING NEEDLE, AND SEWING NEEDLE

Devil’s darning needle, darning needle, and sewing needle are just a few nicknames that come from the way dragonflies “fly back and forth over the same area as a needle travels when darning socks,” according to Hawaiian Nature Notes.

Devil’s darning needle is a chiefly northern term, while darning needle is mostly used in the Northeast, Inland North, and the West. Dining needle, a variant of darning needle, might be heard on Long Island; Spanish needle in Nebraska; stitcher in California and Massachusetts; and sewing needle in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.

Dragonflies are harmless but somehow gained a nasty reputation. A belief was that the “devil’s darning-needle [would] sew together the fingers or toes of a person who goes to sleep within its reach,” according to the 1899 book Animal and Plant Lore. It would also “sew up the mouths of scolding women, saucy children, and profane men,” “sting you to death,” and “enter the ears and penetrate the brain of a person.” Animal and Plant Lore isn't the only place these ideas pop up: In The Insect Guide (1948), author Ralph B. Swain writes that “it was once popularly believed that [large dragonflies] sewed up the ears of truant schoolboys,” while a 1967 quote in DARE says “it would sew up your mouth if you told a lie.”

4., 5., 6., AND 7. EAR CUTTER, EAR SEWER, EAR NEEDLE, AND EYE STITCHER

Want kids to behave? Make up scary stuff about insects. The term ear cutter comes from the myth that dragonflies “will cut the ears of children who lie,” according to DARE. Synonyms include ear sewer and ear needle, the latter of which is probably a blend of ear sewer and darning needle. Eye stitcher comes from the frightening idea that dragonflies “will sew your eyes shut if you don’t behave.”

8. SCHNEIDER

Pronounced sneeder or snyder, this Wisconsin moniker comes from the German word for tailor and also refers to the daddy longlegs and other insects.

9., 10., AND 11. SNAKE SERVANT, SNAKE GUARDER, AND SNAKE HEEDER

A Pennsylvania term, snake servant apparently comes from the belief that dragonflies warned snakes “of approaching danger, and aided them in the acquisition of food,” according to the Journal of American Folklore.

Also in the Pennsylvania German area were snake heeder and snake guarder, according to A Word Geography of the United States. The latter term is a loan translation of the Pennsylvania German schlangehieter, while the former is a partial translation of the same word, according to DARE.

More snake-related nicknames include snake waiter, especially in Maryland; snake peter in Wisconsin and New Jersey; snake feeder in the Midland and Plains States; and snake charmer in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Montana, and the Northeast.

12. SNAKE DOCTOR

While dragonflies might be the stuff of bratty kids’ nightmares, they were apparently a boon to snakes. Snake doctor, chiefly used in the Midland and South, comes from the idea that dragonflies could “cure snakes” or snakebites. According to the 1893 book Some Peculiarities of Speech in Mississippi, the “two bumps sometimes seen on the [dragonfly], just behind his wings, are called his saddlebags, and in them he is reputed to carry medicine for the snakes.” Meanwhile, an Alabama resident told DARE dragonflies “picked off the gnats that would gather in a small cloud around a sunning snake.”

Other doctor epithets include witch doctor, especially in the South Midland, and mosquito doctor, probably a blend of mosquito hawk, another nickname for the dragonfly, and snake doctor.

13., 14., AND 15. DEVIL’S DRAGON, DEVIL’S RIDING HORSE, AND DICKINSON’S HORSE

Dragonflies were considered devilish in some regions, with devil’s dragon quoted in Tennessee; devil horse and devil's horse in Wisconsin, Alabama, and Mississippi; and devil’s riding horse in North Carolina. In Iowa you might hear Dickinson’s horse or Dickinson’s mare where, we’re speculating, Dickinson might be a variation on Dick, Dickens, and other old-fashioned names for the devil.

16., 17., AND 18. HORSE DOCTOR, MOSQUITO HORSE, AND HORSE STINGER

Horse-related idioms are another variation. You might hear horse doctor in Tennessee, Texas, and Arkansas, where one resident said it might be “bad luck for ‘horse doctors’ to fly around near the fish pole.” Mosquito horse might be heard in Mississippi and Georgia. In Nebraska, horse stinger comes from the old-timey belief that dragonflies stung horses and even sucked their blood, according to the book Hill County Harvest.

19. AND 20. MULE KILLER AND BEE-BUTCHER

Similarly, mule killer comes from the incorrect belief that dragonflies killed mules, and not-so-similarly, bee-butcher from their true habit of eating bees and other small insects.

21. FOUR-EYES

Not just a schoolyard taunt, four-eyes might be a dragonfly designation in Illinois, referring to its compound eye, according to DARE. Sarah Zielinski writes at Smithsonian that “nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.”

22. AND 23. HELICOPTER AND AIRPLANE

Then there are the regionalisms related to how dragonflies move. According to Zielinksi, they’re “expert fliers” and can “fly straight up and down, hover like a helicopter and even mate mid-air.” So it’s no surprise that the dragonfly is known as a helicopter in areas like Indiana, Pennsylvania, and the Upper Midwest. Meanwhile, over in California, Delaware, Washington, and South Dakota, the insect might be called an airplane, airplane bug, and airplane fly.

24. GLOBE-SKIMMER

According to Hawaiian Nature, a particular species of dragonfly known as the globe-skimmer takes “advantage of any little puddle of water in the lowlands to breed,” which is why “this species is so abundant, even in the driest localities.” The species migrates 11,000 miles—the farthest of any insect.

25. LONG-ASS BUTTERFLY

And if you’re ever in the Buckeye State, be like one Ohioan jokester who referred to a dragonfly for what it is: a long-ass butterfly.

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15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring
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DreamWorks

An urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they see it turns out to be true. To her increasing horror, reporter Rachel Keller (then-newcomer Naomi Watts) discovers this after her niece is one of four teenage victims, and is in a race against the clock to uncover the mystery behind the girl in the video before her and her son’s time is up.

Released 15 years ago, on October 18, 2002, The Ring began a trend of both remaking Japanese horror films in a big way, and giving you nightmares about creepy creatures crawling out of your television. Here are some facts about the film that you can feel free to pass along to anybody, guilt-free.

1. DREAMWORKS BOUGHT THE AMERICAN RIGHTS TO RINGU FOR $1 MILLION.

There were conflicting stories over how executive producer Roy Lee came to see the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, Hideo Nakata's adaptation of the 1991 novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Lee said two different friends gave him a copy of Ringu in January 2001, which he loved and immediately gave to DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian, who agreed to purchase the rights. But Lee’s close friend Mike Macari worked at Fine Line Features, which had an American remake of Ringu in development before January 2001. Macari said he showed Lee Ringu much earlier. Macari and Lee were both listed as executive producers for The Ring.

2. THE DIRECTOR FIRST SAW RINGU ON A POOR QUALITY VHS TAPE, WHICH ADDED TO ITS CREEPINESS.

Gore Verbinski had previously directed MouseHunt. He said the first time he "watched the original Ringu was on a VHS tape that was probably seven generations down. It was really poor quality, but actually that added to the mystique, especially when I realized that this was a movie about a videotape." Naomi Watts struggled to find a VHS copy of Ringu while shooting in the south of Wales. When she finally got a hold of one she watched it on a very small TV alone in her hotel room. "I remember being pretty freaked out," Watts said. "I just saw it the once, and that was enough to get me excited about doing it."

3. THE RING AND RINGU ARE ABOUT 50 PERCENT DIFFERENT.

Naomi Watts in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

Verbinski estimated that, for the American version, they "changed up to 50 percent of it. The basic premise is intact, the story is intact, the ghost story, the story of Samara, the child." Storylines involving the characters having ESP, a volcano, “dream logic,” and references to “brine and goblins” were taken out.

4. IT RAINED ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN THEY FILMED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

The weather added to the “atmosphere of dread,” according to the film's production notes. Verbinski said the setting allowed them to create an “overcast mood” of dampness and isolation.

5. THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS INFLUENCED BY ANDREW WYETH.

Artist Andrew Wyeth tended to use muted, somber earth tones in his work. "In Wyeth's work, the trees are always dormant, and the colors are muted earth tones," explained production designer Tom Duffield. "It's greys, it's browns, it's somber colors; it's ripped fabrics in the windows. His work has a haunting flavor that I felt would add to the mystique of this movie, so I latched on to it."

6. THERE WERE RINGS EVERYWHERE.

The carpeting and wallpaper patterns, the circular kitchen knobs, the doctor’s sweater design, Rachel’s apartment number, and more were purposely designed with the film's title in mind.

7. WATTS AND MARTIN HENDERSON HAD A FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY.

Martin Henderson and Naomi Watts star in 'The Ring' (1992)
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

The New Zealand-born Henderson played Noah, Rachel’s ex-husband. Since Watts is from Australia, Henderson said that, "Between takes, we'd joke around with each other's accents and play into the whole New Zealand-Australia rivalry."

8. THE TWO WEREN’T SURE IF THE MOVIE WAS GOING TO BE SCARY ENOUGH.

After shooting some of the scenes, and not having the benefit of seeing what they'd look like once any special effects were added, Henderson and Watts worried that the final result would not be scary enough. "There were moments when Naomi and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh,'" Henderson told the BBC." You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

9. CHRIS COOPER WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cooper played a child murderer in two scenes which were initially meant to bookend the film. He unconvincingly claimed to Rachel that he found God in the beginning, and in the end she gave him the cursed tape. Audiences at test screenings were distracted that an actor they recognized disappears for most of the film, so he was cut out entirely.

10. THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF ALL OF THE SHADOWS.

Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli used the lack of sunlight in Washington to remove the characters’ shadows. The two wanted to keep the characters feeling as if “they’re floating a little bit, in space.”

11. THE TREE WAS NICKNAMED "LUCILLE."

The red Japanese maple tree in the cursed video was named after the famous redheaded actress Lucille Ball. The tree was fake, built out of steel tubing and plaster. The Washington wind blew it over three different times. The night they put up the tree in Los Angeles, the wind blew at 60 miles per hour and knocked Lucille over yet again. "It was very strange," said Duffield.

12. MOESKO ISLAND IS A FUNCTIONING LIGHTHOUSE.

Moesko Island Lighthouse is Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River, a mile west of Agate Beach, Oregon. The website Rachel checks, MoeskoIslandLighthouse.com, used to actually exist as a one-page website, which gave general information on the fictional place. You can read it here.

13. A WEBSITE WAS CREATED BY DREAMWORKS TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE AND ADD TO ITS MYTHOLOGY.

Before and during the theatrical release, if you logged into AnOpenLetter.com, you could read a message in white lettering against a black background warning about what happens if you watch the cursed video (you can read it here). By November 24, 2002, it was a standard official website made for the movie, set up by DreamWorks.

14. VERBINSKI DIDN’T HAVE FUN DIRECTING THE MOVIE.

“It’s no fun making a horror film," admitted Verbinski. "You get into some darker areas of the brain and after a while everything becomes a bit depressing.”

15. DAVEIGH CHASE SCARED HERSELF.

Daveigh Chase in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

When Daveigh Chase, who played Samara, saw The Ring in theaters, she had to cover her eyes out of fear—of herself. Some people she met after the movie came out were also afraid of her.

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European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
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Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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