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 Free images -  Dragonfly Nymph Hatching

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Dragonflies belong to the order Odonata.  They have a long body, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, large multifaceted eyes and six legs.   Although they cannot walk very well, they are one of the fastest flying insects.  Since their larvae are aquatic, dragonflies can be found around water sources and wetlands such as ponds, marshes, lakes and streams.  There are well over 5 thousands species of dragonflies!

Dragonflies are predators that eat other small insects such as flies, bees, ants, and wasps.  They are sometimes called “mosquito hawks” since their eating behaviour helps to control mosquito populations.

A dragonfly has three life stages:  the egg, the nymph and the adult dragonfly.  Female dragonflies lay their eggs near a water source or on floating plants or reeds and grasses.  The eggs hatch into “nymphs”.  Most of a dragonfly’s life is spent as a nymph, living beneath the water’s surface breathing through gills. 

 

Common Baskettail  [Epitheca cynosura]  Nymph Hatching  

One sunny June day, I was witness to the "hatching" of dragonfly nymphs in Northern Ontario and the emergence of hundreds of dragonflies.  If you didn't look carefully, you would miss the event entirely since this miraculous transformation took place quietly on grasses, reeds and shrubbery beside Gourd Lake at Grundy Lake Provincial Park.

The nymph (larval) stage of some species of dragonfly can last as long as five years, but ranges between two months to three years.  During this stage, the nymphs grow and molt their shells 10 to 12 times before being ready to hatch into adults.

 

grasses shrubs beside lake

Hatching Area  - 1
Almost unseen, a miraculous transformation is taking place in these grasses.

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grass shrubs beside lake with path

Hatching Area  - 2

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A quick glance at this lake in Northern Ontario and one would not even notice the monumental events occurring in the grasses beside the water. 

 

nymph hatching area grass shrubs beside lake

Hatching Area  - 3

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When the time comes for the larva (nymph) to change (metamorphose) or into an adult, it leaves the water and crawls along the shoreline ground hunting for a suitable plant, grass or reed on which to “hatch”.  As it is exposed to air, the larva begins to breathe.  The metamorphosis takes place in spring and I was lucky to have caught the entire process on camera.

I first noticed many crawling insects along the sandy banks and grasses of the lake.  These were the nymphs of dragonflies looking for a secure place to latch onto to begin the  next phase of their lives.  They scurried about very quickly and climbed grasses, reeds, small shrubs, and even me.

 

dragonfly nymph crawling in sand

Nymph Crawling  -  1
Nymphs crawl along the ground searching for a suitable plant on which to hatch.

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dragonfly nymph crawling in dried grass

Nymph Crawling  -  2
The Nymphs move very quickly, scurrying along the lake's shoreline.

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dragonfly nymph crawling on pine tree needles

Nymph Crawling  -  3

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With a vice-like grip, the nymphs took hold of an upright plant.  No amount of wind or shaking of the plant could loosen their tight grip.  Instantly they became motionless.  After several minutes, a lump appeared on the back of the Nymph, the skin or exoskeleton cracked open at a weak spot behind the head, and soon a new head began to emerge.  Ever so slowly, the dragonfly’s head pushed through the cracked opening.

 

dragonfly nymph grasping grass

Nymph  -  1
The Nymph positions himself on grasses and holds on tightly.

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dragonfly nymph holding on to plant

Nymph  -  2
Ready for hatching.

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dragonfly nymph ready to hatch

Nymph  -  3
Holding on to a plant beside the lake.

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dragonfly nymph

Nymph  -  4
This nymph crawled up my leg thinking it to be a good hatching spot perhaps?

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dragonfly nymph

Nymph  -  5

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dragonfly nymph attached to alder leaf ready to hatch

Nymph  -  6  Attached to an Alder Leaf

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The large eyes and head emerge slowly upside down.  As the dragonfly hangs upside down, still attached to its Nymph body, its long slender new form begins to emerge.  White slender legs push the body from the Nymph shell.  There are long periods of no movement, followed by shudders and back and forth movements as the dragonfly pushes himself out of the exoskeleton.  

 

dragonfly  nymph hatching from exoskeleton

Nymph Hatching  - 1 

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dragonfly  nymph hatching upside down from exoskeleton

Nymph Hatching  - 2

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dragonfly nymph hatching

Nymph Hatching  - 3 

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dragonfly hatching from nymph

Nymph Hatching  - 4 

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Dragonfly Nymph Image Pages  [1]  [2]  [3]

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Are You Baffled 
by Bugs ?

Did you know...

That all insects are bugs, but not all bugs are insects!

 


"I dreamed
 I was a butterfly,
 flitting around 
in the sky; 
then I awoke.  
Now I wonder:  
Am I a man 
who dreamt 
of being a butterfly, 
or am I a butterfly
dreaming 
that I am a man?"

~ Chuang Tse ~
Chinese philosopher

 

Insects have 3 body parts:  a head, thorax and abdomen.  They also have six legs and two antennae.

Spiders and Scorpions have eight legs and are not considered insects!

 

According to some sources, the total number of insect species is somewhere between 15 and 30 million!

There are 900,000 known species in the world.

 

Insane About Insects ?

 

Did you know...

Scorpions can live for more than one year without eating!

 

Mosquitoes have 47 teeth, but only the female mosquitoe bites using it's proboscis.

Fireflies, sometimes called Lightningbugs, are not true bugs or flies.  They are beetles!

Every year, insects eat about one third of the world's food crops.

Only male crickets can chirp.  They will chirp faster in warm weather.  

Most insects hatch from eggs.

The average bed contains 2-6 million dust mites!

 

Are You An Enthusiastic
Entomologist ?

Did you know...

Every year, the average person eats several insects while sleeping.  

Insects breath through a complicated network of air tubes called tracheae that open along the sides of the insects body.

Nearly all insect growth involves metamorphosis.

The average housefly lives only two weeks!

A female ladybug lays about 1000 eggs in her lifetime.

Honeybees fly at a speed of 13-15 mph.

Even though spiders have eight eyes, they still can't see very well.

A cockroach can live up to 9 days without its head!

 

 

 

 

 

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