What is an Entomologist?

I am totally and utterly amazing at this photo! I tried all the different settings, Macro, Supermacro, flash on, flash off…I took probably a dozen photos of the nymph today. All blurry. And you, future entomologist, Math Whiz, Monarch Butterfly Watcher, YOU take this FANTASTIC CLOSEUP OF THE GREEN DARNER NYMPH! ARGGHHH! I am so impressed with your photo and so frustrated with my lack of photographic skills. *sigh* Nonetheless, here is your photo, Malachi. Truly amazing. And a photo of you as we get ready to move our 2nd 12-spotted skimmer to a safe place for the evening. I hope the weather is better tomorrow and we can release her. I hope for some sunshine. I hope…

Our First Dragonfly!


This beautiful, twelve-spotted skimmer (Libellula pulchella) emerged in our classroom on April 29! If you look closely, you can see the shell/instar/exoskeleton of the nymph. Dragonflies prefer to emerge at night. The previously aquatic nymph (also called a naiad) climbs out of the water and finds a safe place. It then goes through the final stage of its incomplete metamorphosis. The nymph’s exoskeleton will split and the adult dragonfly will begin to emerge. John and I observed emerging blue dasher dragonflies last summer in our pond. It can take from a few minutes up to a few hours for this process to be complete! After the dragonfly emerges, it will cling to the shell of the nymph and allow its wings to dry. After a few hours, the dragonfly’s wings are dry and it can fly away!

Malachi and I released our skimmer at the swamp. I hope she is doing well and is eating many mosquitoes!

If you have any questions about dragonflies, please post them here. I am no expert, but hopefully I can give you good answer!

Blue Dasher Photo #2

Here is the dragonfly after it has completely emerged, its wings are fully open and dry. You can see the instar or shedding that it has left behind. The blue dashers we watched emerging this summer all completed this process at night. Why do you think they emerge at night instead of during the day?
Dragonfly metamorphosis is different from butterfly metamorphosis.
Click here to learn about incomplete metamorphosis!Scroll down about 1/2 way and you will learn how it is different. What stage is missing in the incomplete metamorphosis?

Blue dasher dragonfly emerging!

This is a picture of a blue dasher nymph that is going through metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is a change in form from one stage to the next in the life of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly. A dragonfly lives the first part of its life in the water. When in this stage it is called a nymph. The nymph breathes through gills similar to a fish. It is quite the predator and will eat almost any living thing it can get its jaws on!
When the nymph is big enough, it climbs out of the water (as it has done here,) its exoskeleton breaks open and out emerges the strange-looking adult dragonfly! Watch for me to post another dragonfly photo! PS-I did not take the picture. John is the impressive photographer here! 🙂

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