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Dragonflies and Damselflies Life Cycle

Dragonflies adults are colourful but their larvae are less familiar. The grow of dragonflies can hardly be classified in to in-complete metamorphosis nor complete metamorphosis. Metamorphosis in Dragonflies and  Damselflies  is  quite different form other insects. Their larva look different from adults but they do not have pupa stage. 

The above picture was taken early in the morning, the Australian Emerald Dragonfly nymph came out from water,  just emerged and become an adult.

Dragonflies and  Damselflies lay their eggs in flash water where the larva grow. Larvae need fairly precise habitat and sensitive to water pollution. Number of larvae found in the water can be used as an indicator to the water quality. 

Damselfly Larva  20mm

The larva uses its tail to breath in water. Just before the last molting, the larva climb up from the water and emerge from the last  molting skin as an adult. The larva is a predator in water preying on small animals such as mosquitoes larva. The adult is a predator in the sky and preying on flying insects. Larva may spend one to three years in water, depend on species, while adults live only a few weeks.

The moulting skin left after the larva climbed up from the water and emerged as an dragonfly.
We found this moulting skin on a broken tree trunk which is about 2 meters from the water edge.
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Last updated: November 07, 2006.