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Dragonfly Metamorphasis

July 4, 2012

The dragonflies are very active now; I have even seen a couple of them immediately after they morphed out of the nymph stage.

For example, this is the just abandoned nymph exoskeleton of a Blue Dasher:

The nymphs spend time both in and out of water as they approach metamorphosis; from what I can tell they usually attach to a stem or leaf and leave their “body” behind, still clutching the perch like a cicada. I’m not sure why, but in this case it appears the exit was done on the edge of the rock; a few inches away, the brand new dragonfly was slowly stretching everything out. (It isn’t the best picture, but with nature sometimes you have to take what you can get.)

Contrary to what you might expect after seeing this picture, the dragonfly was very much alive and gradually wiggling his way out of the water towards the cover of nearby plants. Initially their wings are wet, milky white and quite compressed; likewise their bodies are short and relatively plump when compared to their final dimensions.

Eventually, the new “hatchling” above will look like this adult sitting up proudly on a pitcher plant leaf overhanging the pond:

As with birds, male dragonflies have vivid coloring and the female colors tend to be more subdued and neutral. As I was trying to frame the picture above I noticed this second dragonfly below on the water lettuce:

Given the darker coloring with just the slightest tint of blue, I assumed this was a female Blue Dasher. Nature confirmed this a few minutes later (or else I was a witness to dragonfly cross breeding. 😉 )

Panning out a bit, your can see a nymph hanging out nearby as well. It this wasn’t its time to hatch; it crawled around a bit then returned to the water.

What you can’t pick up from the pictures is the constant motion, the darting and jockeying of the males. The female’s presence had at least three males (including the one above) in a tizzy; for a while there, any time one would land, another would buzz up tauntingly only to be challenged and chased off by the one on the perch.

This short clip isn’t NatGeo quality but maybe you get the idea:

That’s it for dragonflies today.

Note: We received a modest late afternoon shower, the first in a month or so. I’ll be curious to see if my male toads show up at the pond again tonight and “serenade” any females within earshot.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2012 9:56 pm

    Wow! That’s SO cool! I don’t know how I missed this post, well, I haven’t been at the computer as much lately & had out of town guest for the 4th so I’ve been quite distracted,… but it’s fabulous! I’m so grateful for your interest & talent at capturing these great aspects of your garden & nature!

  2. July 20, 2012 5:59 am

    Thank you Genene

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