Dragonfly Study from Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock
What do you know about the life cycle of a dragonfly? Dragonflies begin their lives as nymphs hatched from tiny eggs laid in the water by female dragonflies. The nymphs look very different from the adults and may live for years in the water, molting multiple times. Then in late spring or early summer, they climb out of the water, shed their skin one final time, and emerge as the beautiful winged creatures we see skimming over ponds on sunny days.
Since learning about the life cycle of a dragonfly, we often visit our pond hoping to find a dragonfly emerging from a nymph case. We also enjoy hunting for nymph cases. So far we’ve found one, but we hope to find more.
Here’s a short video of the process.
Questions from Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock
Anna Comstock includes the following information to look for when you are observing dragonflies
Go to a pond or sluggish stream when the sun is shining, preferably at midday, and note as far as possible the following things:
- Do you see dragonflies darting over the pond? Describe their flight. They are hunting flies and mosquitoes and other insects on the wing; note how they do it. If the sky becomes cloudy, can you see the dragonflies hunting? In looking over a pond where there are many dragonflies darting about, do the larger species fly higher than the smaller ones?
- Note the way the dragonflies hold their wings when they are resting. Do they rest with their wings folded together over the abdomen or are they extended out at an angle to the abdomen? Do you know how this difference in attitude of resting determines one difference between the damsel flies and the dragonflies?
- The damselflies are those which hold their wings folded above the back when resting. Are these as large and strongbodied as the dragonflies? Are their bodies more brilliantly colored? How does the shape of the head and eyes differ from those of the dragonflies? How many different-colored damselflies can you find?
- Do you see some dragonflies clipping down in the water as they fly? If so they are laying their eggs. Note if you find others clinging to reeds or other plants with the abdomen thrust below the surface of the water. If so, these are damselflies inserting their eggs into the stem of the plant.
More about dragonfly life cycles:
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