When we see a dragonfly flitting around the garden or pond, the insect world's equivalent of a fairy doing some summertime magic, seldom do we think of how it came to be. As it turns out, these graceful skimmers spend between one and five years under water in the nymph stage, where they are ferocious predators with, as Wired magazine puts it, incredibly fast weaponized mouthparts. Yikes.
When they finally emerge to take form as the dragonfly we know and love, they do so with a set of lumps on their backs ... these will become wings. And not just any wings, but the most powerful wings in the insect kingdom. Thankfully they have a glorious life above water, because it generally only lasts long enough to mature and reproduce, from a few weeks to up to six months.
Smithsonian produced this fascinating video showing not only life under water and those super grabby mouthparts, but also the growth of a dragonfly's wings in time-lapse. So cool, see it here: