Dragonfly Emergence

diagram showing the stages of emergence for a dragonfly

Once the new exoskeleton is fully developed, muscular contractions and intake of air cause the dragonfly's body to swell until the old exoskeleton splits open along the ecdysial lines.

The dragonfly breaks through the old exoskeleton and works its way out until just the end of the abdomen remains inside the old exoskeleton. The dragonfly then flips itself upward via a manoeuvre that is similar to an upside down sit-up/stomach crunch. It grabs onto the old exoskeleton and pulls out the remainder of its abdomen. (If you want to see a movie (300k) illustrating this manoeuvre, follow this link: http://www.moorhen.demon.co.uk/dflyem.mpg or for sequential photos of dragonfly emergence, follow this link: http://www.moorhen.demon.co.uk/dflyem.htm)

The wings, when the dragonfly first emerges, are shriveled and opaque. The wings are pumped full of fluid to expand them and when fully expanded, they harden and eventually become transparent.