adult dragonfly

The older version has three body parts. It has six legs. It has two pairs of wings. Its eyes are close together. Its body has bright colors.

dragonfly nymph

The younger version has the same number of body parts and legs. It doesn't have wings yet. Its eyes are far apart. It's less colorful.


This is the same animal. It is the southern hawker dragonfly. You are just seeing it at different points of its life.

Look at them
side-by-side.
They are different versions of the same thing!

head

Insect Body Parts

thorax

abdomen

Changes Ahead

All insects go through a major change in form. It's called metamorphosis. Most insects have a complete metamorphosis. Their bodies move through four stages. They are egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Dragonflies have an incomplete metamorphosis. Their bodies only go through three stages. They are egg, nymph, and adult.

A dragonfly hatches from an egg. It molts, or sheds it skin, in the water. It is now a nymph.

This nymph's body is brown and green.

A southern hawker nymph moves underwater.

More Mobile

A nymph must molt many times. That's because its outer layer cannot grow. It's called an exoskeleton. When this insect gets too big, its skin splits open. A new skin is underneath.

A nymph zips through the water. Its body is brown and green. It blends in with pond or lake water. It's hard to spot. Its large eyes look for prey. It eats insects and small fish.

This nymph's eyes are set far apart.