National Geographic : 1980 Jan
FAMILYAESCHNIDAE(RIGHT), ABOUT3 IN LONG; TURTLE(PAGES 136-7), CHELYDRASERPENTINA,ABOUT2 FT LONG A FULL TILT, a barnstorming dragonfly (facing page) veers over a pad. For two to eight weeks, dragonflies take to the air to mate. They die after eggs are laid. Before flight, dragonflies spend a year underwater as nymphs (above) that breathe through gills and capture prey with an ex tendable lower lip tipped with teeth. To change form, a nymph climbs above the water (below left), splits down the back, and emerges as a new, winged creature, leaving behind a ghostly shell (below right). A nymph is a quick meal for a snapping turtle prowling amid bits of plants and algae (pages 136-7). Snappers sit comfortably on top of the food chain. When mature, they have no dangerous enemies in the pond.