Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Last Stage From Pondsville

The Emperors have been continuing to emerge, but all at night time and so eluding my watchful, wishful filming gaze. In the meantime I've been learning much more about the underwater larvae. Once they've completed their final underwater moult, there's one final metamorphosis where the wings swell and the mouthparts change. The ferocious underwater jet propelled killing harpoon retracts into the gripping, piercing jaws of the adult.  When an individual is ready to emerge, you can see the green colouring showing through the skin, bulging eyes and a general 'uncomfortable in its own skin' kind of behaviour.

Through the photos below I also managed to distinguish between earlier larval forms. One I think is the final stage, but before the very final metamorphosis, and one an earlier stage without wing cases. Even better, I found what I thought was a completely different species, a charmingly black and white striped mini beast. This, it transpires, is in fact itself an Emperor Dragonfly nymph. About 1.5 cm long and about a year old (from last year's eggs).

Emperor Dragonfly larva on the cusp of leaving the water

Emperor Dragonfly larva after final moult (probably), but before final metamorphosis

Earlier stage (stadia) Emperor Dragonfly larva (no wing cases)
Early stage Emperor Dragonfly larva, at least 10 months old

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