Dragonflies and damselflies are "cousins" in the order Odonata.  They both begin life as an egg, hatching underwater.  After at least a year in the water (up to 5 years, for some cold-climate species!), the larvae of both odes emerge, "unzip" their skins, and step out as adults.  They unfurl their long tails and wings, pump them full of fluids, harden their exoskeletons, and fly off, to repeat the cycle.  The colors are gorgeous and the behaviors are fascinating as these fierce predators dazzle us with their aerobatic stunts.

Prince baskettail adult & exuvia

Prince baskettail adult & exuvia

The empty skin left behind when an adult emerged; the adult in this photo was found injured and never recovered.

Eclosing Arrow clubtail

Eclosing Arrow clubtail

Tiger spiketail, photo: Dale Ferland

Tiger spiketail, photo: Dale Ferland

This is the first recorded sighting of this species in Vermont!

Cherry-faced Meadowhawk

Cherry-faced Meadowhawk

Dragonfly larva

Dragonfly larva

Damselfly larvae, 2 species

Damselfly larvae, 2 species

Common Whitetail

Common Whitetail

IMG_3551

IMG_3551

Eastern forktail damselfly

Eastern forktail damselfly

Variable dancer damselfly

Variable dancer damselfly

Mating pair of Variable dancers

Mating pair of Variable dancers

Eastern forktail

Eastern forktail

Just emerging from its larval skin

Just emerging from its larval skin

IMG_3494

IMG_3494

Female Autumn meadowhawk

Female Autumn meadowhawk

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Dragonfly larva