Catching Prey

As a nymph, the southern hawker has a special way of catching prey. It folds its lip beneath its head when it’s not hunting. When it sees prey, the lip shoots forward. The insect stabs the prey with the sharp spines on the lip.

Next, the nymph pulls its lower lip back toward its jaws. The jaws are strong and tough and lined with teeth. They cut the prey into pieces.

As the nymph eats, it grows. As it grows, it molts. A nymph may molt as many as eight times. The time between each molt is called an instar. Life as a nymph is long. It can last several years.

A nymph shoots out its lower lip to catch prey.


Once caught,
the prey is quickly eaten by the nymph.

A Final Change

In the last stages of metamorphosis, the southern hawker can no longer hunt and eat. It needs to molt one last time. It waits until night. It climbs up the stem of a water plant.

The insect pumps fluids into its body. The exoskeleton splits. It pushes its body through this gap. Its head and legs follow. Then it pumps fluids into its new wings to expand them.

From Larva to Adult

Take a closer look at the journey of a dragonfly:


Emerging Nymph

The larva leaves its egg and enters the water as a nymph.


Instar Stages

As the nymph grows, it molts and forms a new exoskeleton. It will molt
several times.


Final Molt

The nymph leaves the water as its exoskeleton splits one last time.


Emerging Dragonfly

The dragonfly climbs out of its exoskeleton. It waits for its new skin to harden.


Ready for Flight

The adult dragonfly opens its wings in the sunlight. Then it takes its first flight.