Updated June 2012 – See my blog post HERE for a more detailed discussion of dragon and damselflies, metamorphosis, and some photos of a dragonfly emerging.
Every summer, in our garden pond, many dozens of damsel and dragonfly nymphs undergo an astonishing metamorphosis. They climb up to the surface of the water, and slowly slowly put their heads out. After a year or two as aquatic creatures, they breathe air for the first time. Once they’ve acclimatised, the nymph climbs out and prepares to emerge. Its skin splits across the thorax revealing the pale but bright colours underneath. It’s a laborious process as the nymph struggles out of its old skin, but eventually it emerges completely. It pumps the little crumpled wing buds full of fluid, and they unfold and lengthen. Then the same with the body, until this little stumpy thing is a delicate damselfly. The whole thing takes around half to three quarters of an hour, and it’s ready to take its first flight. The one I’ve painstakingly photographed here got eaten by a sparrow before its maiden flight, much to my distress. C’est la vie. Or not, in this one’s case.