think positively about dragonflies and damselflies.
Dragonflies and damselflies begin their life in the water.
Adult females lay their eggs in or near the water, or inserted
into aquatic plants, depending on the species. The eggs
hatch and the immatures, called naiads, begin to develop
underwater. Naiads breathe underwater using modified gills
located on their abdomen, which also help the naiad to move
through the water quickly. They have a specialized hinged
lower lip that they can quickly extend to capture prey. Naiads
feed on insects, snails, tadpoles and even small fish. This
immature life stage may last from as short as one month to up
to several years.
ABOVE: This is a female damselfly in the family Lestidae,
collectively referred to as spreadingwing damselflies.
LEFT: This female damselfly is a blue-form blue-fronted dancer
(Argia apicalis). The females in this species also have a brown
Dragonflies and damselflies undergo simple metamorphosis,
meaning they have three life stages: egg, nymph (or naiad)
and adult. Naiads will molt, or shed their skin, multiple times,
growing larger and more mature with each molt. Just prior to
their final molt, when they become adults, their gills cease to
work, and they must surface. The naiad will crawl out of the
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2014 • NEBRASKAland 41