Saturday, May 11, 2013

An amazing transformation

After having photographed the metamorphosis of a Cicada last year, I was thinking about the process for Dragonflies.  To my amazement, I found one yesterday just as it was pushing out of its nymph shell (exuvia).  I managed to get off one quick shot before it was out completely.  Then I was able to witness (and capture) the phases of its transformation as its wings unfolded and it became a "full-fledged" Dragonfly!

Here is a series of photographs documenting this awesome process:

The nymph (which has been living a fully aquatic life and breathing through gills) climbs out of the water and up the stem or blade of a plant.  It then clings to the plant as the Dragonfly compresses its abdomen which causes the thoracic region to swell and split open the skin on the insect's back.  It then twitches and pushes until it manages to free itself from the nymphal skin.
 
In a matter of seconds the Dragonfly was completely out!
 
While in the larval (nymph) stage, and just before climbing up the plant, it consumes a large quantity of water which it uses to pump into its appendages causing them to elongate. 
 
 The expanding wings are evident in this photograph.
 
Further expansion takes place as minutes pass.
 
The wings become fully extended and the Dragonfly re-positions itself on the plant.  The re-positioning was done several times.
 
This side-view shows off its lovely, lacey wings!
 
The Dragonfly also moved its legs on occasion and made head movements as though stretching.
 
This photo shows how it has now moved completely away from its former skin.
 
 
After the wings are fully expanded, excess water is expelled from its digestive tract (you can see a drop at its tip) and air is pumped into the wings to harden them.
 
This process continues for a short time and once again the Dragonfly re-positions itself.
 
In a very sudden movement the wings spring open into the familiar position of those of a fully formed Dragonfly.  This picture was taken a second or two after the previous one.
 
As I took this final photo a breeze came up and riffled the Dragonfly's wings and I wondered how it felt for this insect who, up until an hour earlier, had been confined in another body.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

10 comments:

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    1. I love your play on words! :-) Nature sure is remarkable!

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  2. Absolutely, amazingly amazing!!!

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    1. Thanks for your visit Cuppa! We live in an amazing world don't we? And looking at it from a macro perspective is awesome!

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  3. As with the caterpillar becoming a butterfly, I can't help but wonder if we don't all transform in some way - possibly from the physical to the spiritual.

    The photography is amazing Doris, and so are your talents for capturing this transformation.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Glacierbear and your ideas about transformations are poignant. The processes at work in nature inspire awe and remind us how much there is to learn.

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  4. What a fascinating series of pictures. Lucky you on seeing and photographing this event. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks Flighty. I was indeed extremely fortunate!

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  5. We seldom notice the wonderful world that you so artfully present to us. Thank you Doris for bringing it to our attention!

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    1. Thanks so much Didee for your kind comment!

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