Here be dragons

I really hadn’t planned to do a detailed post today, since so much other stuff is taking up the front burners (I won’t bother to elaborate), but the natural developments outside are so spectacular that I have no choice but to share them with you. We’ve been back up at our cabin for two days now, and they have been spectacular, weather-wise, with not only pleasant temperatures, but also practically no wind: The lake has been like a mirror, and the conditions are ideal for our favorite early-summer event, the hatching into adulthood of our fiercest mosquito predators, the locally-legendary Dragonhunters (Hagenius brevistylus). As I walk what we call the deer path, the long-worn path along the shore of the lake, in mid-morning, I am able to see dozens of emerging adults within as many steps. Dragonhunter nymph 10745They are our largest dragonflies, averaging 3.5 inches in length, and we welcome them with open arms. The nymphs climb onto the shore and continue to climb until they find a Dragonhunter 10743structure to settle on to await the drying-out of their exoskeleton, which splits to allow the Dragonhunter 10778adult to emerge, expand, and develop. The process, once a suitable perch is found, takes Dragonhunter 10779several hours until the end-stage Dragonhunter is ready to make its first tentative flight. Dragonhunter 10780Sometimes they go out across the water before they gain strength and agility, and land on the surface, ready prey for cruising fish, and we always watch for these and rescue as many Dragonhunter 10758as we can, carefully relocating them to new perches where they can dry out and rest until they’re stronger. The miracle of metamorphosis is clearly seen in the transition from the Dragonhunter 10767drab, mud-colored, ungainly, and homely nymph to the elegant and amazingly-agile adult. It’s a process that I will always love to follow.

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About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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22 Responses to Here be dragons

  1. Oh Gary, this is one of the most fabulous series of nature photos you have ever done!! I have never witnessed the metamorphosis of a dragonfly before, and your pictures are incredibly clear and detailed. I’m so glad you took the time to share this with us, and I love any predator of the mosquito since mosquitos find me particularly tasty LOL.

  2. Winnie Hurd says:

    Fascinating! I can’t wait to show this series of photos to my grandkids!

    • krikitarts says:

      I’d like to know what they think of them!

      • Winnie Hurd says:

        Well, Alannah (5) is the one who likes creatures. She was unimpressed by the dragonfly development because she already saw it on Wild Kratts (PBS show). However, she was thrilled with your many spider photos and particularly liked the wolf spider. She also shared that she thinks you take very good pictures!

      • krikitarts says:

        Thanks for the follow-up report. Compliments from kids are very special!

  3. Mike Powell says:

    Great series of shots, Gary. I’ve never seen the whole process laid out like this. I understand the transformation, but seeing it like this is breathtaking, the more so because the Dragonhunter is on the short list of dragonflies that I really want to see.

    • krikitarts says:

      I was just reading that they are on many enthusiasts’ short lists, and here you are to back up that statement. The empty nymph husks are really impressive and they’re everywhere. I could easily send you a few if you wish, eh? Ha! Genius!

      • Mike Powell says:

        Thanks for the offer, Gary. Half of the thrill is in the hunt, so I’ll be off in search of the dragonhunter in my area. It’s cool that you are in a location that is a breeding ground for them.

  4. These are an amazing series of photos. Incredible.

  5. Vicki says:

    Excellent photos.
    Fascinating to see the dragonflies emerge in this series. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has never watched this event.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great series of shots, Gary. Seeing the metamorphosis of a creature is so awe inspiring.

  7. cindy knoke says:

    Yes. I love to watch metamorphoisis too. Tadpoles caught in streams as a child, watching the eating of the tail, the first expression of front legs, the movement from water to land.
    Or monarch butterflies cocoons, I bought for the kids, watching that first,unfolding of damp wings. And then releasing them and letting them fly.
    Something holy about this.
    Your photos are remarkable.

    • krikitarts says:

      I found a large caterpillar when I was a boy of twelve or so and put it in a jar. It formed a huge cocoon and I kept it through the winter in the garage. When it hatched in the spring, it had changed into a perfect, gorgeous polyphemus moth. That was one of the events that helped to kindle my love of the natural world. Thanks so much, Cindy!

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