Dragonfly Life Cycle and Metamorphosis

Dragonfly Life Cycle and Metamorphosis
Grade Levels
3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th
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188.86 MB   |   N/A pages


(New for school year 2014-15)

The subject of dragonflies offers many avenues for study. Dragonflies have been an ancient and popular decorative image and the subject of folklore because they appear in many colors and varieties. They also have an interesting life cycle, play a role both in fresh water and in the air to control other insects, and are found in some form in much of the world. Some research suggests they form and travel in occasional "swarms."

You could explore their "incomplete" metamorphosis; agile maneuvering, hovering, and reverse flight abilities; ancient forms in the fossil record; accurate eyesight; nymph mouthpart that works like a claw; flying together while mating; males sometimes steering the female (to reduce competition) as she deposits eggs; the way they breathe by action of the abdomen we can see up close; and the unique muscle action of the wings that is unlike other insects. There are also plentiful web resources, including nature videos about them, and demonstrations of "bionicopter" robots that look like dragonflies some students may find fascinating. Even if dragonflies are gone from sight during the school year, they can be appreciated and sought after with more knowledge next summer.

Running slightly over 7 minutes, the video is non language-specific and is intended to spark interest in the subject, for followup teaching. All gentle motion, small characters and still images are barely paint-enhanced from nature. Contributed slow motion and time lapse portions used with permission are directly from nature.

After an opening reminding us of where we often see them (flying across land - sometimes but not always near water), there is a tandem flight and "staying hooked" closeup, and then an egg-laying female passes by, followed by nymph behavior in the water. Next during a leafy transition, is another small pair picture (challenge students to find it) - of a real mating. I didn't emphasize this as it is a bit confusing but you can look at http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/19376 if you want to explain to higher grade students.

Then comes a sequence of the final molt and wing expansion process. It is amazing how these wings could have been folded inside the nymph's shell! The emergence is followed by some slow motion footage of aerial flights originally recorded against the sky, ending with images like the film opening.

Although dragonflies are high-speed acrobats, I opted for some soaring which they can also do briefly, using storybook style treatment to provide lingering moments to better grasp their full appearance.

Be sure and also use Odonata as a key word for searching, to bring up such links as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7Q0IXBM-4M and more on nymphs at http://www.watchknowlearn.org/Video.aspx?VideoID=2402&CategoryID=570

This is a very rich subject which will reward you with many sub-headings. Start with asking students if a dragonfly lands on a flower, is it feeding like a bee?

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