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The Dragonfly Life Cycle

1. There are many different kinds of dragonflies. The Common Darter dragonflies (right) are mating. The red coloured male clasps the female by the neck. She places the tip of her body against the male and her eggs are fertilised.

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(Left) The Southern Hawker dragonfly has emerged. Its old larval skeleton can still be seen, just beneath the right wings.
6. (Above) Before the adult can fly, its exoskeleton and wings must harden. The whole process of emergence through to flying adult can take several hours. NEXT

2. After mating the female dragonfly lays her many eggs. Most dragonflies lay their eggs in water or mud. Some lay their eggs in objects which are near the water. (Below)

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3. The larvae which hatch out from the eggs live in water. This may be for as long as 4 or 5 years. They go through a series of stages. Each stage is larger than the last.

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5. The adult dragonfly slowly emerges (above). Internal fluids are pumped around the body and wings which gradually expand to adult size. emerge1.jpg (7616 bytes)  

4. When it is fully developed, the dragonfly larva crawls out of the water and up something like a nearby plant stem. Unlike insects such as butterflies, they do not have the resting stage known as pupation. There is no chrysalis.