Young dragonflies, or naiads, are wingless with six legs and a segmented abdomen; they are stout and show the beginnings of wings. Dragonfly naiads inhabit slow-moving waterways, and they live among the detritus at the bottom of ponds and lakes. Dragonfly naiads are voracious aquatic predators. They feed on mosquito larvae and other aquatic insects, and they are important in controlling nuisance insect populations.Continue Reading
According to the Idaho Museum of Natural History, the term naiad is specific to insects like dragonflies, damselflies and mayflies, and it distinguishes the young of those species from larvae or nymphs. Larvae are very different from adults, and only become adults after a pupal stage. Nymphs look like miniature adults. Naiads appear somewhat different than their adult phase, but they do not undergo a pupal stage like larvae. Instead, they shed their skin as they grow larger and become adults after the final molt.
Dragonfly naiads, like adults, are predators. Some larger species also prey upon small fish and tadpoles. Dragonflies spend the majority of their lives in the aquatic naiad phase - sometimes up to five years. Naiads move through the water by forcing water out through the anus to propel themselves forward.
Dragonfly naiads are helpful indicators of stream health. The naiads are semi-tolerant, meaning that they can thrive in at least moderately polluted waters. They are, however, sensitive to destruction or disturbance of vegetation as they require vegetation for shelter.Learn more about Bugs