Jan 19, 2007

Molting Beast

Antero told me the story of a killer bug he encountered in his garden pond in Finland. This creature is able to hunt down and eat frogs. What beast could he be talking about?

I imagine most of us have encountered the adult form of this insect, but not many would recognize the larval form. What am I talking about? A dragonfly nymph, of course. They are unpleasant - I know, from personal and painful experience.

I've tracked down a photo of a dragonfly molting its youthful skin. These insects are some of the largest on the planet, though they live most of their life in larval form. But you should count your blessings that you don't live Permian age, when dragonflies could reach nearly double the size of today's average specimen.

Photo courtesy: Royal Photographic Society


Sulka Haro said...

The largest known dragonfly fossils had a wingspan well in excess of half a meter, or almost 30 inches. This is much, much more than twice the average dragons of today. :)

Rasmus said...

Might also have been a diving beetle larva (http://images.google.com/images?q=dytiscus&ndsp=20&svnum=10&hl=en&lr=&newwindow=1&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-06,GGLD:en&start=0&sa=N). I've seen them take small fish and salamander larvae, and - incidentally - my index finger.

Raging Wombat said...

Could I have committed a double wrong here? Wouldn't be the first. Thanks for the info.

Christine said...

I think the killer larvae must have been the diving beetle. We had dragonfly larvae in our pond and they weren't aggressive at all, I don't think they can bite people because we used to pick them up to look at them all the time. A woman from the local mosquito abatement society told me that dragonfly larvae are actually one of the top predators of mosquito larvae, so you want them in your pond!

Raging Wombat said...

Rasmus and Christine, I think you're both right. I'm lame.