Thursday, November 14, 2013


After a month or two spent mucking about in a pond for food, the aquatic larvae, or nymphs, of dragonflies crawl out of the water, crack open the skin on their back, and begin new lives as aerobatic adults. I found these exoskeletons, or exuvia, of roseate skimmers (Orthemis ferruginea) clinging to a cement wall along the Central Arizona Project canal, where a trough of still water serves as a year round breeding ground for dragonflies, as well as dozens of other insects. The exuvia are perfect casts of the fearsome jaws and giant eyes that make the larvae successful predators. I would like to have witnessed the magical hour when dragonflies emerged from these chitonous skins. Even more, I would like to be able to shed my own skin and fly! 
This trough on top of the CAP canal collects debris and mud,
creating a year-round pond that is brimming with aquatic life.
An adult Roseate Skimmer rests on a blade of grass.
Dragonfly larvae blend in with muck at the bottom of the pond.

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