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Dragonfly Lifespan

A Complete Guide To The Dragonfly Lifespan

The dragonfly lifespan depends entirely on the exact variety that it is, living conditions and predators.  They have been around well over 300 million years which makes them one of the world’s oldest species.  It is believed that they have been successful through the years by the way that they mature so slowly.  The dragonfly lifespan consists of three very different stages being egg, nymph and finally adult.  The exact length of every stage differs from species to species and location to location.

Egg Stage

Dragonflies begin their lives as eggs.  Once breeding has taken place, the female dragonfly finds a suitable marsh or pond to lay her eggs.  They are only laid in very still water or else they could end up traveling into areas where fish feed.

The eggs are laid on mud banks, submerged aquatic plants or sometimes even directly on the surface of the water.  A female dragonfly has the ability to lay hundreds or even thousands of eggs throughout her life, depending on species.

In areas where temperature drops down below freezing, the eggs will not hatch until spring of the following year while those in tropical regions can hatch in as little as five days.

See Related: Dragonfly Symbolism

Nymph Stage

The next stage in the dragonfly lifespan begins when the eggs hatch and become nymphs.  These do not at all resemble their adult stage in appearance or personality as these are voracious predators.  Nymphs shed their skin as many as 12 times and some species live in this stage for as long as 4 years.

Dragonflies dwelling in regions with freezing temperatures in the winter spend a substantial amount of time in the nymph stage in comparison to those that live in tropical regions.  The nymphs are aquatic, finding their homes in marshes and ponds until they emerge when they molt their final time.  This final molting is an intense process as the nymph’s skin completely splits and the adult dragonfly emerges.

Adult Stage

The final stage in the dragonfly lifespan for some species is the shortest cycle.  In tropical regions, a nymph can become an adult at any time during the year but in other locations, this happens in the end of spring or the beginning of summer.  It often take an adult a good month to fully mature after shedding its nymph skin.

During this maturing period, the dragonfly’s sex organs develop, their markings emerge and their colors become bright.  At this time, they leave their marsh or pond that has been their home until then.

Adults are also fierce predators, catching and feeding on flies, mosquitoes and other insects while they are flying.  They are one of the most mysterious fliers in the animal kingdom as they can fly forward, backwards, sideways and even hover.

Once an adult female is completely developed, she will often mate with quite a few males before she lays her eggs.  Male and female dragonflies generally live less than four months as an adult.  Dragonflies will often live to be five years old spending the majority of their lives as nymphs.

Dragonfly Facts

  • These whimsical insects are equipped with two sets of wings which allows them to not flap them so often in flight.
  • Some dragonflies can fly as fast as 36 miles per hour.
  • Costa Rica houses some dragonfly varieties with wingspans of almost eight inches.
  • Dragonflies are found everywhere in the world except Antarctica.
  • The “Devil’s Darning Needle” has been a nickname given to dragonflies in folklore.  They were believed to fly about and find bad children, sewing their mouths shut while the slept.
  • Dragonflies can see in every direction but they have a hard time seeing detail.

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