We were so lucky in Woodland School last week because we were able to witness the stage of a dragonfly life cycle where they change from a larva or nymph into a dragonfly adult!
One of our favourite discoveries when pond dipping are dragonfly larva. They are amazing looking animals and voracious predators, making them very interesting to observe. We have even witnessed them feeding on tiny newts, sparking interesting conversations about how the children feel about the newts getting eaten versus the dragonfly needing to feed. Whenever we find dragonfly larvae we always talk about the fact that they grow into adult dragonflies, and we look at pictures of the dragonfly lifecycle. Equally, in July last year we enjoyed observing the adult dragonflies hunting around our pond. Last week was particularly special because we witnessed the change between the two stages in the life cycle, larva and adult. The previous week we had started to see the larvae climbing out of the water and up onto the reeds. One on the reed they then stay totally still in a state which is similar to a chrysalis or cocoon. They then appeared to stay in this state for around a week, so that when we came back the following week, we were able to witness them moulting/hatching out as adult dragonflies. The process of moulting took around an hour, so we kept checking in on them to see the different stages of the dragonflies unfurling and hardening their wings before taking their first flight. At one point we could see 7 dragonflies at different stages of moulting. This was a magical experience for the children and the adults too! We all felt very lucky to have witnessed such a spectacle.
After emerging as adults, they spend about a week away from the pond feeding and becoming more colourful. They then return to the pond to breed. So, we are now patiently awaiting the return of our beautiful dragonfly adults!
If you would like to learn more about the lifecycle of a dragonfly then this website is one that I would recommend for children and adults to share.