Delicate, but sturdy, miniature invertebrate attack helicopters ready for prey, the damselfly is now emerging for human eyes to see. They began life as eggs placed by the female in a secluded and shallow underwater location. (View this video for its life cycle.) Enveloped in a sheen of oxygen the female crawls beneath the surface on an aquatic plant stem. At location suitable by her unknown specifications, she makes an incision in the plant and slides an egg inside. Think about what you will do in the next week to three weeks, while you are doing human things, the damselfly egg will develop and hatch. Damselflies do not have a pupa stage. When the egg hatches, the nymph will live in its aquatic habitat for a period of 2 months to 3 years. The time in the nymph stage depends upon water temperature and available food. In warmer climates damselflies spend more of their life as adults. Adult damselflies live longer in tropical zones than in temperate.
While each of us live the human side of life, damselflies live aquatic. In the nymph stage, a carnivorous damselfly will eat anything smaller that it is. To a human that seems insignificant. It is not. Daphnia, macroscopic invertebrates, that look like fleas live in the damselfly’s water world. The aquatic world of a damselfly nymph may contain up to 1,000 daphnia in just one gallon! Along with the daphnia there are nearly 100 common groups of freshwater invertebrates. One more thing, the domain of a damselfly though mostly unseen to humans is necessary for human existence. The microscopic invertebrates that feed the invertebrates the damselflies eat produce 80% of the oxygen we breathe.
Damselflies, they are important to our lives, even though we seldom notice them. But, seek them out. Besides the environmental significance, they are magnificent to look at.
Where do they get the vigor, the energy? This is like the what came first question, the chicken or the egg? What came first, and has always been? God.
One of my favorite Bible verses has always been Isaiah 40:31… “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” My shortsighted humanness has always thought these words to be about me. While these words are to encourage the one who reads them, God controls all things, at all times. The damselfly also waits on God. It waits as an egg, and as a nymph to become an adult. As the nymph swims, then crawls out of the water for the first time to shed its exoskeleton, God renews its strength on the plant stem. Eagles have a pair of wings. God gives the damselfly two pair to use to renew the life cycle of its kind. It is unlikely the damselfly complains to God as I often do.
It is always an adventure to view creation, study how it works, and see the power and genius of God. The damselfly is one amazing part of the creation narrative. For now God is invisible, but we can see His power in the gossamer wings of the damselfly.