Damselfly Metamorphosis

This series of photos was taken in the spring of 2002 by John Macken in Santa Rosa, Sonoma Co., CA at his front yard pond.

The following set of pictures shows the transformation of a swimming damselfly larvae to a damselfly which flew away. The complete transformation took less than 11/2 hours.

This first picture shows the damselfly larvae starting to climb out of the water for the first time. When I saw this, I was not sure what would happen or how long it would take. I decided to take this first picture and watch.

This picture captures the moment that the damselfly is part way out of its larvae skin. A curious water skeeter looks on.

There are several things of interest in this photo. First of all, look at the four little protrusions on the back of the damselfly. These will become the four wings of the damselfly. Also notice the length of the abdomen of the damselfly. It already has begun to expand so that the damselfly is already bigger than the skin.

This is just a few minutes later and the wings have changed from the short stubs in the previous photograph, to something that looks like wings. Also, the abdomen continues to expand.

In this photo, the wings have expanded to their full length, but the abdomen is still growing. Notice how the abdomen is considerably shorter than the wings.

This is the final photograph in this series. About 20 seconds after this photo was taken, the damselfly flew away.
Notice in this photo how the abdomen is now much longer than the wings. I have made measurements, and the abdomen has expanded by about 2 1/2 times and the wings have expanded by about 5 times. I presume that this abdomen expansion occurred by inflation. The entire sequence from swimming in the water to flying away took only about 1 1/2 hours.

This is another (different) damselfly birth photo.

Contact John at John Macken