Two weeks ago I was wandering on the edge of a little pond photographing dragonflies when I spotted this nymph just breaking open. Dragonfly nymphs mature underwater and climb out when ready for the dragonfly to emerge.
I immediately called my husband over so he could photograph while I hurried to get my stool and sketchbook. I had to work fairly quickly on each sketch, first because things were happening fairly quickly, and then we were starting to loose our light. Because it was getting dark we didn’t wait for the dragonfly to spread its wings, but I’ve seen it happen on others. Once the wings are unfurled and full size, they suddenly open. He’ll never close them again.
- By the time I got back with my sketchbook, the dragonfly was half out of the nymph casing.
- Its eyes look mushy and miss-shaped at first, but soon will be awesome
- Initially its wings are tiny and folded like an accordion ever so tightly
- Gradually the wings unfurl.
- After the wings are starting to look like wings, its abdomen starts to lengthen
- Wings and abdomen still growing
- The dragonfly seems to be flexing one leg joint after another
- Abdomen is taking the shape of an adult’s
9. After half an hour of not much happening, the dragonfly starts slowly climbing the cattail, about an inch a minute. Wings are still straight back
I sketched this one today. When I found it the dragonfly had recently emerged and was waiting just a few minutes longer before flying. Their wings need to harden before good flight is possible.
I’m not sure what kind of dragonfly either of these are, probably a chalk-fronted corporal or an American emerald. They fly before they have good color. Sometimes I can tell the species, and sometimes I can’t.