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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dragonfly lifecycle

We had a great experience at camp this weekend.  The kids went down to the dock and discovered a dragonfly emerging from it's nymph stage.  

Over the next 3 hours we watched it slowly change.  Look closely at the wings and thorax as they grow - you can click on the pictures for an even more amazing view. 

Grandma (Nina) was the center of attention as she explained to the what was happening:

The immature dragonflies (nymphs) are completely aquatic.  Most of a dragonfly's life (approximately 70%) is spend in this underwater form, using gills to breathe beneath the water's surface.  It molts, shedding it's skin, several times.  

Just before the last molting, the nymph emerges from the water and  grips onto a solid surface using the pointy claws on it's feet.  Now that the nymph is exposed to air, it begins to breathe.  As the nymph changes, the skin splits at a weak spot behind the head, and the adult dragonfly slowly sheds it's skin for the last time revealing fully formed adult wings.  

After emerging, the dragonfly actively pumps fluids into it's wings, and they change rapidly from small and curled, to shiny and strong.   

It's amazing that God could create something in one day so aerodynamic that it can hover in mid-air, out of a creature that wasn't even able to breath air the day before.  


Doris said...

That's awesome!!

capturedalive said...

whoa what an experience to capture. I envy you