A nymph slowly emerges from its exuvia as a familiar adult dragonfly in this Beauty of Science video: The Metamorphosis of a Dragonfly. It’s called an ‘incomplete metamorphosis’ because there’s no pupal stage within their life cycle. Wikipedia has details:
The larval stage of dragonflies lasts up to five years in large species, and between two months and three years in smaller species. When the naiad is ready to metamorphose into an adult, it stops feeding and makes its way to the surface, generally at night. It remains stationary with its head out of the water, while its respiration system adapts to breathing air, then climbs up a reed or other emergent plant, and moults (ecdysis). Anchoring itself firmly in a vertical position with its claws, its skin begins to split at a weak spot behind the head. The adult dragonfly crawls out of its larval skin, the exuvia, arching backwards when all but the tip of its abdomen is free, to allow its exoskeleton to harden. Curling back upwards, it completes its emergence, swallowing air, which plumps out its body, and pumping haemolymph into its wings, which causes them to expand to their full extent.
The video above was filmed with an iPhone 6s over 8 hours on May 25th and 26th, including the time lapse portion where we can see its wings expand. Check out more photos on their site.
There’s related reading at The British Dragonfly Society’s site.Next: More metamorphosis videos, including a Maggot to Fly Time Lapse Transformation, the Life Cycle of the Silkworm, and the unexpected beauty & design of a mosquito’s metamorphosis.