Friday, July 8, 2011

Enter The Dragonfly

The other day, along the Ottawa River, I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing the metamorphosis of a dragonfly.  I have been wanting to see this transformation happen for a long time now, and I certainly wasn't disappointed!

The life cycle of a dragonfly begins as an egg laid in the water.  Once it hatches, the dragonfly lives underwater as a nymph (also called a naiad) for anywhere from one to four years.  Dragonflies are carnivorous as nymphs as well as adults.  During their aquatic stage, the nymph eat water boatmen, snail larvae, other naiads and even small fish.  When the time is right, the naiad will crawl out of the water onto a plant or rock or whatever lends itself as a suitable place, and the final metamorphosis will occur.
This transformation, from nymph to adult dragonfly, is what I finally witnessed the other day.

The dragonfly has pushed through its old skin.  The wings have yet to expand...

The dragonfly is pushing water throughout its body so that all its new appendages take form.
The wings have started to expand slightly...
The wings have expanded a bit more, and the dragonfly is now pulling its tail out of its skin some more. 

The tail is now completely free from the nymph skin.  This empty skin casing  is called the exuvia. 

More wings.....

Trying a different angle.  The wings have filled in considerably.  This dragonfly had crawled up the retaining wall at Britannia Beach, in case you were wondering. 

With its wings almost completely expanded, the dragonfly waits to dry off and start its new adventures as an adult dragonfly.  Happy mosquito hunting!!!