Dragonflies and damselflies raising young

A dragonfly laying eggs ©Janet AllenA dragonfly laying eggs

This dragonfly is laying eggs in our wildlife pond. This one is just sitting on the log to lay its eggs, but some species repeatedly drop down and touch the water to release their eggs.

The nymph stage can last from one month to years, so some will overwinter in the pond and emerge the next year or later. These nymphs eat many other things such as mosquito eggs.

Damselflies mating ©Janet Allen
Damselflies mating

We haven't seen dragonflies mating, but damselflies are more often mating near our ponds.

Damselfly laying eggs ©Janet Allen
Damselfly laying eggs

This damselfly was actually much bluer than it appears in the photo. She's laying eggs in the pond.

Bucket ©Janet Allen
Rescuing nymphs

We don't clean our pond frequently (about every other year) since we are more interested in a healthy pond full of life rather than a merely ornamental, crystal clear pond.

But sometimes the amount of vegetation becomes overwhelming, which is probably more of a problem in our small pond than in a larger one, and we have to go in and remove some of the plants from the center of the pond.

But what happens to all those dragonfly and damselfly nymphs living there, waiting to become adults?

Rescued ©Janet Allen
Rescued from the bucket

We put all our plant "trimmings" in buckets, wait a few hours, then go through the plant material looking for nymphs before throwing the plants onto the compost pile. We find most of the nymphs at the bottom of the bucket, along with all the pond water and muck that has dripped from our plants, but I sometimes find some still in the plant materials.

Dragonfly nymph ©Janet Allen
They may look fierce, but they're harmless

I'm sure we lose some, but we rescue quite a few — maybe even most of them. Yes, it's a pretty dirty job, but gratifying to know we've rescued our nymphs!

A dragonfly nymph ©Janet Allen
A dragonfly nymph

I discovered this nymph in our toad tadpole aquarium. (The toads had laid lots of eggs during a warm spell in early April, then the weather turned cold, so we brought them inside.)

This nymph was probably planning a great tadpole lunch until I removed him and put him back in the pond.

Dragonfly nymph ©Janet AllenA dragonfly nymph

This dragonfly nymph is probably looking for some emergent vegetation as it prepares to emerge as an adult dragonfly.

A dragonfly emerging  ©Janet AllenA dragonfly emerging

I have to admit I didn't realize this was a dragonfly emerging when I took the photo years ago. I just thought it was an interesting insect.

It's amazing that those large wings can fit in such a small space!

Dragonfly fully emerged ©Janet AllenDragonfly fully emerged

Here's a dragonfly that's fully emerged—it must have become very cramped inside that shell. Its last larval skeleton is technically called the "exuvia."

The wings of this newly-emerged dragonfly (called a teneral) still have a milky color, but they'll become clear after a while.

Exuvia ©Janet Allen
The exuvia

We see quite a few of these "exuvia" attached to emergent vegetation in the pond.

Dragonfly with damaged wings ©Janet Allen
Dragonfly with damaged wings

Unfortunately, they seem to sometimes have problems with their wings upon emerging. Or maybe those are the ones I see most frequently since they can't just fly away!