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(the moulting of a) Vagrant Darter

(the moulting of a) Vagrant Darter

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Mark Billiau.


World Member, region Antwerp, Belgium

(the moulting of a) Vagrant Darter

Deep in the heart of the swamp, I spotted this female Vagrant Darter while moulting from nymph stage after leaving the water and crawling up on a reed stem.
The protective skin has already been shed from her torso (visible on the stem) but her lower body is still packed in old skin.

A dragonfly has 3 stages in its life: egg, nymph and adult.
When a dragonfly egg has hatched, it’s called nymph.
A dragonfly nymph moults (shed its skin) up to 12 times in its life (depending on the species) and can spend as long as 4 years as nymph.
During the final moulting the nymph's skin splits and the nymph emerges as an adult and that is precisely what you can see in this exceptional picture.
After having dried in the sun, the metamorphosis from swimming to flying insect has come succesfully to an end.
Sadly, an adult dragonfly usually lives only about 2 months.

Both sexes of the Vagrant Darter are yellow after the final moult.
A few days later, the males’ abdomen changes to red and the abdomen of the female darkens on the sides from yellow to brown.

Dutch name : Steenrode Heidelibel
German name : Gemeine Heidelibelle
Latin name : Sympetrum vulgatum

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