The Dragons of Summer
by Jill Edwards Steeley
The tiny dragon whirs to a stop on a reed near the pond. Outstretched wings glisten in the hot summer sun. Huge eyes look all about. It rests a moment. Then it flies away. Its hunt for food continues.
This isn’t a fairytale dragon. It’s an insect called a dragonfly, one of God’s delicate creations.
The Dragonfly’s Beginnings
A dragonfly’s story begins with an egg. The female lays hundreds or thousands at a time. She lays them in or near ponds or quiet streams. Soon the egg hatches. Out comes a nymph (pronounced “nimf”).
The nymph doesn’t look like its mother. It has a short, fat body. It has no wings and lives in water. It eats insects, tadpoles, and even tiny fish.
As it grows, it gets too big for its outer shell, but God has a plan for its new wardrobe. It molts, or sheds, its old covering. The shell splits open. The nymph squeezes out. This happens many times. For the last molt the nymph comes out of the water. It climbs up onto a reed, a rock, a piece of wood, or another dry spot. The shell splits, and a dragonfly climbs out.
Once its wings dry, it flies off to find food. It makes a basket with its bristly legs. Then it scoops up insects to eat as it flies.
The Dragonfly’s Amazing Design
A dragonfly can hover and fly backwards. It has been estimated that it can race after its dinner as fast as 30 to 60 miles per hour! That’s what you call fast food.
God laced dragonfly wings with tiny veins. A pair of wings is on each side of its long, slim body. It looks like an airplane. The sheer wings may have spots or bars. Some are blue, green, yellow, red, brown, or black and white.
This little dragon doesn’t bite or sting to protect itself. Its flying skills help it to avoid danger.
Soon the dragonfly finds a mate. After mating, females skim across the water, dropping their eggs. Others poke their eggs into the soft mud or plants along the pond bank.
About a week later, the adult dragonfly dies. The story of this dragonfly ends, but the cycle of life continues.
Under water, eggs hatch into nymphs. Along the bank, dragonflies wiggle out of nymph shells. Others dart around the pond after mosquitoes. Pairs of dragonflies mate. Females lay eggs as they fly above the water. The summer sun shimmers on the wings of these tiny flying dragons.
© Jill Edwards Steeley
Jill Edwards Steeley is a freelance writer from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
This article was reviewed for scientific accuracy by entomologist D. Steve Dennis, Ph.D.