Nasty Nymphs in Mighty Oaks!

As part of our science learning in Mighty Oaks, we have been looking at the lifestages of different animals. This week we were looking at the lifestages of different insects.

Most insects (around 88%) go through a complete metamorphosis, meaning that they look completely different at each of their four lifestages, from egg to larva, to pupa, to adult.

Complete metamorphosis. Source: Arizona State University

The remaining 12% of insects go through an incomplete metamorphosis, meaning that they have only three lifestages: egg; nymph; adult.

The nymph stage is where the insect is growing continually into its adult form. Some winged insects will begin developing their wings at this stage.

In order to demonstrate this, we headed down to our school pond to see if we could find some dragonfly nymphs.

Epiprocta, Dragonfly nymph. Photo: David Paul, source: Museums Victoria

The class used nets to carefully search for dragonfly nymphs, which live on the bottom of ponds, feeding on other small animals such as tadpoles. We found many nymphs and took them back to the class to make careful observations.

Dragonfly nymphs, while small, are very aggressive predators, and were allegedly the inspiration behind the ‘Xenomorph’ in the ‘Aliens’ sci-fi films. You can see why in the image of a dragonfly nymph feeding below:

Dragonfly nymph jaw. Photo: KQED Science

The lower part of their jaw (called a labium) is like a long, hinged arm that is usually folded under the head. When they encounter their prey, they extend the labium to grab or impale the creature to draw it back to their mouth. 

Please enjoy the pictures from our lesson below:

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Please note: all nymphs and other creatures were returned safely to the pond after the lesson!