The Dragonfly Life Cycle


This photo shown a fully grown nymph with 9 segments abdoment [right] and a younger nymph [left].
Location: ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore [20120309]

A dragonfly could have a life span of more than a year, but very little of that life is actually as an adult dragonfly. There are three stages of the dragonfly life cycle, the egg, the nymph, and the adult dragonfly. Most of the life cycle of a dragonfly is lived out in the nymph stage [up to 4 years] and we don’t see them at all, as this happen underwater in a marsh or pond.

The Egg Stage
A male and a female dragonfly will mate while they are flying in the air. After two dragonflies mate, the female dragonfly will lay her eggs on a plant in the water or just drop them into the water.

The Nymph Stage
Once the dragonfly eggs hatch, the life cycle of a dragonfly larva begins as a nymph. A nymph looks like a little alien creature. It looks like a crusty hump hanging onto its back. Dragonfly nymphs live in the water while they grow and develop. This portion of the dragonfly life cycle can take up to four years to complete. In temperate regions if the nymph cycle is completed in the beginning of the wintertime it will remain in the water until spring when it is warm enough to come out. Dragonfly nymphs live in ponds or marshy areas, in calm water.

The Adult Dragonfly Stage
Once the nymph is fully grown it will complete the metamorphosis into a dragonfly by crawling out of the water up the stem of a plant.


The nymph will shed its skin onto the stem of the plant and will then be a young dragonfly.

Once the dragonfly leaves the exuvia it is a full grown dragonfly. The dragonfly will hunt for food and begin to look for a mate. Once the dragonfly finds a mate, the female will find a calm body of water, a good place to lay her eggs, and the life cycle of the dragonfly begins all over again. Adult dragonflies only live about 2-6 months. They may live longer in dry and warm weather.


Trithemis arteriosa: Redveined Dropwing dragonfly

Dragonflies of the genus Trithemis are from the subfamily Trithemistinae or commonly called Dropwings. There are more than 50 Trithemis species worldwide, and they are essentially African but five have made it to Asia.


Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital, Singapaore 20120403.

Zoomed macro photo at dusk. I like its fuchsia tail, I should say, abdomen 🙂

Dragonflies have two pairs of elongated membranous wings with a strong crossvein and many small veins that criss-cross in the wings, adding strength and flexibility to the wings. Dragonflies’ rear wings have a broader base and are larger than the front pair. Dragonflies do not have hinges enabling them to fold their wings together when resting.

Orthetrum albistylum: White-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly

Orthetrum is a genus of dragonflies in the Libellulidae family. It is a very large genus, spread across the Old World.


Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital, Singapaore 20120403.

Zoomed macro photo at dusk. Hmmm no white tail 🙂

The skimmers or perchers and their relatives form the Libellulidae, the largest dragonfly family in the world.

Neurothemis fluctuans: Red Grasshawk dragonfly

Neurothemis fluctuans is one of the most common species in Singapore. Widespread in tropical Asia.


One will spot this species easily at open ponds. The male is in red colour but the female is rather dull brown/yellow colour. Wings are almost entirely brownish-red except the tips and a thin tapering clear band around the hind margin from about its midpoint.


All photos taken @ Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital, Singapore 20120412.
Macro Zoom.

Odonata of Peninsular Malaysia