When I was little, I loved spending time at my pond. Every year, when the snow would melt and the pond thawed, I would periodically walk around the base looking for frogs, salamanders, and turtles. The first sign of summer was always spotting the first dragonfly nymph on the side of the bank. I collected all the Dragonfly nymphs I could find and put them in a bucket. Once I felt my bucket was full enough, I would sit on the lawn and put them all over me so that I could watch them emerge. It was amazing to have a hundred dragonflies dry their freshly unwrinkled wings on me to eventually all fly off one by one into their newly flight driven world. Dragonflies are a huge part of freshwater ecosystems. They provide food for amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and other insects. They also help limit mosquito populations, which if you ask me, is a wicked nice bonus of the Dragonfly. Also quick note from experience, these guys can bite if pushed hard enough, learned the hard way with a butterfly net.
(Order of Odonata)
- Dragonflies need at least 63 degree weather to emerge.
- If you want to see a nymph turning into their final adult stage, the time to view this would be the middle of May to early June.
- Dragonfly nymphs and adult Dragonflies are predatory. Nymphs eat other insects, pollywogs, and smaller fish. Adults pray on other flying insects like mosquitos!
- Dragonfly nymphs hang out on the shorelines of ponds, lakes, and vernal pools. During the day you can pick through submerged leaf debris and find them.
- Dragonflies have an incomplete metamorphosis due to not having a pupal stage like butterflies and moths.
- Dragonflies lay their eggs in plant debris. Their eggs take a week to hatch.
- The nymph stage can last about 5 years!!!
- Before turning into an adult Dragonfly, nymphs stop eating for up to two weeks to prepare for emergence.
- Dragonfly nymphs use jet propulsion to move through the water, by forcing the water out their rear ends. In other words, they move through the water with jet propulsion farts!
- Dragonfly wings move separately, which has been studied by science in use for flying devices like helicopters.
More ideas for learning about Dragonflies:
- Hang out by a pond, lake, or vernal spring, at the end of May, to try and catch them emerging.
- Any time of the year you can catch dragonfly nymphs, just remember that in the winter the chances of them surviving, after being observed for a while, are low due to drastic temp changes.
- Have a Dragonfly Nymph Race.
- Read about CIA Dragonfly Robots!
- Check out some other cool Dragonfly Robots.
- Watch this Slow Motion Video on Dragonflies.
- Draw some Dragonfly details for your Nature Journal, as I did below.
- What is the stage before an adult dragonfly?
- Do Dragonfly wings move together? Or Separately?
- What do Dragonflies eat?
- When is the perfect time to catch Dragonflies emerging?
- How long does the nymph stage last?
- Why do Dragonflies have an incomplete metamorphosis?
- How long does it take Dragonfly eggs to hatch?
- Draw a picture showing how Dragonfly nymphs move through the water.