Weston, age seven, found this dragonfly nymph (called a naiad) while swimming. After examining it briefly, he splashed back into the river. While adult dragonflies are agile predators on the wing, most of their lives are actually spent as aquatic predators …and they are armed with a surprising weapon. They use an extendable lower lip (labium) to seize insects, worms, and occasionally fish up to 1” long. They also have a surprising way of breathing, through tracheal gills in their rectum. To avoid danger they can quickly expel water to propel themselves. Depending on the species and environmental conditions, it may take as little as one month to complete a life cycle, or up to five or six years. Mature larvae clamber out of the water (usually at night) and the winged adults emerge from the split exoskeletons.     
Photo by Karen Weaver on 7/18/20 near Thompson Falls, MT.