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Description, name and habitat of dragonfly larvae

The beautiful name of dragonfly larvae for many is a real mystery. Outwardly, it is so different from the bright adult, that it seems to be a different kind of insect.

The habitat, and hence the way of life, is also completely different. It is very interesting and informative to learn where and how this miracle of nature lives in order to look at its appearance on occasion.

The female dragonfly lays its eggs in water, attaching them to a variety of plants, in silt or moss. After 14–35 days, spider-like prelarvae are derived from them (less than 1 mm), immediately molt, then pass to the next stage and continue their development in the water element.

The dragonfly larva is called, oddly enough, a nymph, or naiad. The one who invented this clearly had a good sense of humor.

The respiratory system and the oral apparatus of the nymph are radically different from the adult. This is due to the aquatic lifestyle. Naiad breathes gills – a kind of body, located in the posterior intestine.

Oxygen enters through the anus with water. The larva sucks it up like a powerful vacuum cleaner.

“Spent fuel” with a force thrown out, like a jet, and pushes the naiad forward. So she moves around.

Some groups of larvae breathe and swim differently, with the help of “fin substitutes” – gill plates.

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The dragonfly larva looks like a caricature of a cockroach, painted by different artists. Depending on the species and the group to which the adult belongs, the body of the nymph may have a different shape.

In some, it is thick and short, in others – more elongated and slim. In front of it are three pairs of legs. In relation to the torso, they are longer than that of the adult dragonfly.

An interesting feature is that in the early stages of its development, the naiad can grow a severed foot.

Body color varies in olive-brown tones.

The large head is almost the same as in the adult dragonfly. It does not have the ability to rotate freely, like an imago, and it is tightly adhered to the thoracic region.

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On the inactive head of a nymph, there are huge complex eyes on the sides, and a well-developed jaw, which is equipped with a special organ called a “mask”. It is an enlarged lower lip that performs a grasping function during a hunt. The mask has:

  • two chins;
  • distal lobe;
  • labial palpi lobes.

It can move forward and fold back.

As it develops, the naiad more and more resembles imagoes, but before becoming a dragonfly, she needs to shed 7 to 11 times or more.

These insects undergo incomplete transformation., that is, they pass the pupal stage, and the whole cycle takes from 1 to 3 years. The last molt occurs on land – the larva attaches to the plant and sheds the skin.

A winged beauty is born.

To date, there are about 5,000 different types of dragonflies, which means the same amount of naiad.

The dragonfly larva lives where there is water. For most of her life, she cannot breathe air. Depending on the special structure and group you can find it:

  1. In still water. Representatives of these groups actively swim using their feet or jet stream, or crawl along the bottom. Some burrow into the ground.
  2. In rivers and streams. This is a family of beauty. They cling to plants to hunt.

There is a species of dragonfly, whose larvae live in icy mountain streams, but most of the mollusks prefer quiet and calm water:

  • lakes;
  • ponds;
  • swamps;
  • overgrown ditches;
  • rivers with a slow current.

Find them there is not difficult.

Naiadas, like adults, are predators. They feed on live food: they catch small insect larvae and other animals. The menu also includes:

  • crustaceans;
  • crustacean larvae;
  • fallen;
  • fry of fish and tadpoles;
  • leeches;
  • beetles;
  • daphnia;
  • water bugs;
  • mosquito larvae.

Sitting at the bottom or attaching to the plant, the nymph waits motionlessly and patiently until a suitable change for food appears in sight.

With the capture of prey mask opens and is thrown forward. The sharp teeth pierce the body of the victim, the grasping body immediately folded and pulls it to the very mouth.

After that, it remains only to chew prey.

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