Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Dragonflies Are Go

This year I will be filming Emperor Dragonflies emerging from the Tyntesfield kitchen garden in collaboration with the National Trust and the British Dragonfly Society. I/we will be on site at the pond every day from Saturday 28th May until Saturday June 4th, documenting the spectacular event that is dragonfly hatching and sharing knowledge and enthusiasm of these extraordinary animals with visitors.

Today I went to test a camera and check on what was happening at the pond. I had the great privilege of finding the first of the season had already emerged (leaving only a larval case or exuvia behind). The second proceeded to hatch in front of me and in a very obliging position for my camera. The pictures below are a sequence of this one individual dragonfly. Spanning four hours, the last was taken seconds before it flew away. Hopefully these are the first of many that will take to the air over the next two weeks.

*If you click on a picture you get them all in a larger gallery format (without the captions).

Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) just out of the water and starting to moult

First the flight muscles break through and then the head begins to pull away

The head is now fully clear of the underwater shell

The top half of the body peels back, revealing the legs

Taking an upside down fresh air breather

Still resting

The legs get pulled back in towards the body ready to swing upright. Wings still to be inflated.

After swinging up, the abdomen is released and the wings pumped up

Fluid is drained from the expanded wings and they harden

The wings open, flight muscles vibrate and the adult Emperor Dragonfly is ready for take off

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