A Dragonfly and an Ugly Bug…

Dragonfly and nymph shell

Last weekend, we headed to Montebello, Quebec for some camping and an outdoor concert. We left late on Thursday night and unfortunately, we were too tired to make the whole trip in one drive, so we pulled over and threw our tent up at a picnic rest area (not really recommended, but we were too tired to continue driving). It was a grassy area next to a small, slow-moving river just east of Perth, Ontario.

When we woke up in the morning and started tearing down the tent, I noticed a dragonfly and another ugly bug underneath the fly. When I got closer to try to shoo them off the tent, we realized that the ‘ugly bug’ was actually the dragonfly’s empty nymph body (exuvia). Dragonflies spend most of their life cycle in the ‘nymph phase’, swimming around eating aquatic bugs and sometimes small tadpoles and fish. When they’re ready, they crawl out of the water and bust out of their shells — just like something out of a sci-fi horror movie.

A dragonfly, freshly emerged from the nymph phase

Dragonfly, freshly emerged from the nymph phase

Sometime throughout the night, the nymph had crawled up out of the stream, climbed in between our tent and fly, and hatched into an adult dragonfly. Apparently, the nymph thought our Eureka tent was the perfect, safe place to emerge! It didn’t seem ready to fly yet, so we gently transferred it onto a nearby tree, then continued packing up the tent.

Check out this blog for more detailed description and photos of dragonfly transformation:  http://theforagingphotographer.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/here-be-dragons/

And, watch the time-lapsed video below of a nymph turning into a dragonfly. It’s really cool!

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