Before Emergence

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula final moult

Today has been another exceptionally hot May day, and this afternoon I noticed quite a few recently emerged Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) on plants around my garden pond. And I was delighted to find one which had left it’s larval skin behind.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula final moult

Dragonflies and damselflies don’t go through a pupation stage similar to other insects like butterflies and moths. Final-stage larvae may sit for several days in shallow water getting ready for their final moult, breathing air. The larvae climb up vegetation near the water’s edge and secure a perch for emergence. In the above images one individual has done just this, and climbedΒ  a fair distance to find a good spot for the final transformation. Amazingly, in this state they redistribute their body fluids and push out first their thorax, head, legs and wings. These are allowed to harden before the abdomen is finally withdrawn, which in turn needs time to harden. Transformation is complete, and an adult is born.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

In the images directly above and below, things may have not gone quite to plan for this newly emerged damselfly. Note how the exuvia (the cast skin), is still attached. The wings have not fully retracted and are trapped within. It may eventually free itself, but until then it will not be able to fly and is at the mercy of predation.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula teneral

In a future post I will combine some of the images to show the life cycle which has, to my great surprise, taken 11 months from egg to adult.

Rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.


31 thoughts on “Before Emergence

  1. Amazing photos! I like the info you have provided on the dragonflies and their other stages also going through metamorphosis which is my theme for my blog…. Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a treat – and a nice little entomology lesson thrown in. Did not know this. We have loads of damselflies and I have never seen an emergence once.
    Fortunate indeed you are, sir. And that last shot is a killer! Definitely one for the portfolio, I’d say.
    Look good on a wall inside a nice frame too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous images. How lucky you were to catch the damselfly ‘hatching’. This is one of the advantages of having a home garden. You get to catch these amazing nature shots in regular walks and paying close attention to what’s down low.
    Its something I so rarely see as my eyes are usually looking up in the trees in the hope of catching a bird shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Vicki πŸ™‚ Sometimes it’s a case of being in the right place and at the right time, with some good luck added. But yes, a home garden certainly does have its advantages.


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