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Posts Tagged ‘larva’

This photo leaves me a little confused, because the larval shell to which this damselfly is clinging seems too big for its body and looks more like it belonged to a dragonfly.

There are plenty of places on the internet where you can read about the life cycle of dragonflies and damselflies, but the short version is that they spend most of their lives in the water as nymphs. There they go through a series of larval stages in which they shed their skin that has grown too tight. Just before they molt for the final time, they climb out of the water and, once the skin dries, the damselflies emerge. They then have to rest for a little while as their wings unfurl and their legs get stronger. Only then can they fly away.

This pretty little damselfly seems to be in the resting phase on a little rock ledge at the edge of a pond at a local garden. I wanted to try to get a bit closer, but the embankment where the ledge was located was steep and muddy and I would have had to be standing in the water to get a better angle.

I like the photo a lot and find it to be weirdly fascinating. The landscape is simple and rugged, with some texture in the foreground. The moulted shell still seems lifelike and seems to be looking at us with a slightly tilted head. The damselfly itself has the only color in the image and attracts the viewers’ eyes. There is a kind of tension in the damselfly’s pose, as it hangs on with all of its strength, waiting until the moment when it can fly away.

Imagine what it would be like waiting, waiting for the moment when you take to the air for the first time, leaving behind forever your old life in the water.

emerging_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I am going to have to brush up on my insect identification skills, but I think that this cool-looking insect is a larval form of a ladybug.

I don’t have a garden of my own, but one of my neighbors, fellow blogger and photographer Cindy Dyer, has a wonderful garden that is always full of colorful flowers and insects. I photographed this insect in her garden this afternoon.

The sunlight was a little too direct and the shadows are too harsh. I am happy, though, that I was able to pick up many of the insect’s details with my macro lens. In case you are curious, the bright red in the background is a group of tulips that are in full bloom.

As always, I welcome corrections or clarifications about my identification of my subject—there are lots of folks on-line with greater knowledge and experience in all of the subject areas in which I shoot.

insect_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Last weekend, I took some shots of Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridia) in the larval and pupal stage and discussed the phases of ladybug development in a post called Baby Ladybugs. Yesterday, I returned  to see if I could find any fully developed ladybugs that had been in pupae the last time I encountered them. (Yes, I realize I would not be able to recognize them individually, but it’s nice to imagine that we’re gradually getting to know each other.)

So, what happened? I left the shoot thinking that I had not seen any adult ladybugs, but when I looked at some of the photos on my computer of different pupae, I was uncertain. Right outside of an empty pupa shell in one of the photos is something that looks like an adult ladybug, if I squint my eyes, tilt my head, and use a little imagination. What do you think?

Newly emerged ladybug?

If you haven’t been following this story, let me catch you up with a couple of photos. (I feel like I’m doing an intro for a new television series, Lifestyles of the Ladybug.Ladybugs start out as eggs and them become larvae. As they grow, they molt several times and each time they develop a new exoskeleton. Yesterday, I saw quite a few discarded skins that, at first glance, looked a lot like the larvae themselves. Here is what a ladybug larva looks like in a later phase of development. (I took some new shots of the larvae and pupae yesterday.) They are not as cute in this stage as they will become as adult ladybugs.

Ladybug larva

Once they are fully grown, the larvae enter into a pupal stage, somewhat akin to the cocoons into which caterpillars develop into butterflies. The pupae look a little bit like ladybugs themselves and are attached to leaves. While they are in this phase, the metamorphosis takes place in which they turn into ladybugs. Here is my favorite shots of a ladybug pupa.

Ladybug pupa

After about five days, a ladybug emerges from the pupa. According to ladybug-life-cycle.com, “When the metamorphosis is complete, the skin of the larvae will split open and the full grown ladybug will emerge, but it still won’t look like the ladybug that you know so well. It will look soft and pink or very pale for a couple of hours until its shell becomes hard.”

Was I really lucky enough to catch the ladybug just after it had emerged from the pupa? My response is a firm, “Maybe,” but others with more experience may be able to respond more definitively. Here is one last photo of the possible new ladybug, from a slightly different angle than the first photo, to help your deliberations.

Welcome to this world

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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