Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dragonfly Emerging

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.
  1. By the time I got back with my sketchbook, the dragonfly was half out of the nymph casing.
  2. Its eyes look mushy and miss-shaped at first, but soon will be awesome 
  3. Initially its wings are tiny and folded like an accordion ever so tightly
  4. Gradually the wings unfurl.  
  5. After the wings are starting to look like wings, its abdomen starts to lengthen
  6. Wings and abdomen still growing
  7. The dragonfly seems to be flexing one leg joint after another
  8. 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.  


  1. Oh, I just LOVE to watch them Elva! And you've captured it so beautifully in your sketches, bravo!

  2. Fantastic. Thanks for sharing. I think you did a great job capturing the dragonfly.

  3. What wonderful paintings! It's so much fun to watch these sorts of transformations.

    I hope you don't mind, I re-edited one of my old dragonfly posts to include a link to your work.

  4. Great record of the transition! Love the paintings too. so elegant.

  5. I like dragonflies! I like your sketches and your stories!!

  6. what a reportage! you know so much about nature and observe so accurately. your posts are always a pleasure to watch and read.

  7. Elva, this is a WONDERFUL post...I love to see progressions that help us understand a facet of nature. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  8. Wonderful sketches that tell a story of life. I love the transparency you captured in that last one!


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