Image: Dragonfly nymph
- M Bulbert
- © Australian Museum
Like many insects, the larval and adult stages of dragonflies differ in their shape and behaviour and use different habitats.
Eggs are laid into, or close to, water. The larvae adopt an aquatic lifestyle, with only a few exceptions. They feed on aquatic animals such as other insects, tadpoles and occasionally fish. Some larval dragonflies are commonly known as 'mudeyes'. They are important in the diets of many aquatic predators such as fish.
Dragonfly larvae suck water into their abdomen and move it over their internal gills in order to breathe.
After progressing through up to twelve larval stages the larvae crawl out of the water. Their skin splits and the adults emerge. The adults are predators that often capture prey while flying.