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How long does the blue damselfly live once hatched? We have seen many over the hot week.

Sent in by: Norbert Kursten from Oakhill, Somerset

The life cycle of the dragonflies and damselflies is fascinating as they spend most of their life underwater. 

Eggs are laid in the water of ponds and rivers and after a few weeks or even months (depending on the species), the egg will hatch into a larvae or nymph. With damselflies, it usually takes around a year to reach adulthood. 

When fully grown the larva climbs out of the water onto vegetation and sheds its skin to emerge. It is a sad fact that they only live for a couple of weeks to a few months when ‘on the wing’ and makes seeing them in summer even more special. 

Once the young adults have matured and gained their full colours – process that may take a couple of weeks – the male and female are ready to breed.

Males use claspers at the end of their bodies to grab a female, and the couples fly in tandem while they mate. After mating, the female lays her eggs, either alone or while still in tandem with the male.

It is known in common blue damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum) that when egg laying begins the female will lay underwater alone. On returning to the surface she can be too exhausted to break the surface tension. The male will drop down and rescue her.

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