If you studied this closely, you may have noted the large eyes towards the top of the “creature” resting on the grass. Can you think of an insect with super large eyes? If you said dragonfly, you are correct!
This is what is called the exuvia, or shed-skin of a dragonfly. Dragonflies, like many insects, start their lives out in a body of freshwater such as a pond or stream, as eggs that hatch into baby dragonflies, or nymphs as they are called. These nymphs live in the water for a while before transforming into adults. Most dragonflies live under water in this stage for about a year, though some spend two, three or even seven years in this stage before becoming adults with wings.
Witnessing a dragonfly transform into an adult was an amazing experience I have gotten to enjoy several times in my life. Both times were in early spring when I was out doing photography in the quiet morning hours when much of the world was still asleep. I moved slowly, focused on the tiny details around me, noticing every blade of grass and water droplet, looking for insects that would make great subjects.
When I came upon the dragonfly nymph resting on a submerged reed, I knew what was going on. Nymphs have gills to breathe so when one is out in the air instead of the water, it is easy to predict what will happen next.
After a few minutes, the nymphal skin split in the middle, towards the head and then slowly, out came a came a wrinkled-up creature with miniature wings. It slid out of its old skin and found a firm place to grip, letting its new body hang still. As I watched, it stretched out, pumping fluids into its brand new wings. Before long, it would be completely dry and fly off to start its life as a winged adult.
We live in such an amazing world!
Dragonflies are just one of the many fascinating creatures we share it with. CLICK HERE for more about the winged wonders we call Dragonflies… Do they bite? What do they eat? How long do they live? Learn what scientists recently discovered about one species of dragonfly that makes them even more amazing than the Monarch Butterfly in terms of strength and endurance. Also, learn what happened to this dragonfly below.