While closing the outdoor areas on Thursday April 12, I noticed a small object projecting from the block wall of the Vending Area/Restrooms in Explore the Wild. I at first thought it a wad of gum or candy stuck there by one of the hundreds of school children on campus that day (stuck there by accident, of course).
After putting on my reading glasses I realized that the gum was actually a dragonfly emerging from its nymphal skin. Thinking about this a bit, it occurred to me that this nymph had made quite an incredible journey on this fine spring day.
After spending nearly a year as a nymph in the water of the Wetlands, and never having stepped foot on solid ground before, this intrepid traveler had walked across 10-15 feet of mud and grass, approximately 30 feet of asphalt, and climbed to a height of about 5 feet on the dark gray, block wall in front of me. If that wasn’t enough, the little insect did it in the midst of hundreds of school kids’ feet shuffling by that day. It’s a good thing that this type of journey only happens once in their lives!
By the way, the dragonfly looks to be a Common Whitetail. There are currently many of these dragonflies cruising the Wetlands and paths of the Museum.
April 13: It’s now a day later. I checked to see if the exuvia (cast-off nymphal skin) was still attached to the wall this morning. It was. The dragonfly was still there as well. I had expected that it would been long gone, flown off somewhere. But it had been a cold night with temps in the thirties, slowing down the drying and hardening process. However, by the time that I arrived on the scene, the morning sun had been shinning on the dragonfly for at least a couple of hours and it was now fully developed and clearly identifiable as a female Common Whitetail. It finally flew off around 12:30 PM.