Dragonflies and Mayflies Start as Underwater Nymphs

Do you know the difference between dragonflies and mayflies? Each insect's family includes a variety of species; in fact, there are 5,000 species of dragonfly and 2,000 of mayfly.

Dragonflies and mayflies start as underwater nymphs. These are immature forms of dragonflies and mayflies which have several key differences and similarities.

One of the fastest dragonflies is the emperor dragonfly, whose scientific name is anax imperator. This species is found in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Like all dragonflies, when the emperor is ready to leave the water, it matures into an adult and grows wings.

All dragonflies grow up to four inches in length and have a wingspan of nearly five-and-a-half inches. The fully-grown emperor dragonfly hunts for food over water and marshlands. It chases other dragonflies out of its territory and snacks on smaller insect species.

In contrast, the mayfly’s scientific name is ephemera, a Latin name that comes from the word “ephemeral,” which means “to last a short time.” This nymph spends up to three years in the water; when it finally leaves, it grows up to two inches in length. As adults, mayflies cannot eat because they do not have a digestive system. Consequently, they die quickly. Mayflies are most often seen in summer, when females begin to mate and spread their eggs on bodies of water.

Though they are different in many ways, the emperor dragonfly and the ephemera mayfly—representative of all dragonflies and mayflies—both come from eggs underwater. These water nymphs are fascinating and unique.

[Source: The Encyclopedia of Animals]

Well done, Laura! I really enjoyed working on this piece with you. It's come together nicely. Can't wait to read what you publish next! Keep up the great work. – Mckenna KohlenbergUW Law School (2017-08-24 00:08)