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Insects, dead or alive
Dragonflies are fun to raise but challenging to keep as pets. They are large-winged insects that can grow to 4 inches long. They are also called skimmers, referring to their ability to skim across ponds and other pools of water. A baby dragonfly, called a nymph, lives in the water. Once nymphs are ready to leave the water they crawl to a dry surface and shed their skin. Then, they fly off as the dragonflies that are familiar to most people. A dragonfly's lifespan can vary from 6 months to several years, although most of that time is spent as a nymph. Dragonflies can eat food equal to their own weight in about 30 minutes.
Find nymphs in your local ecosystem or bait shop. They are easy to find in ponds and rivers. Collect some water and use an aquatic insect net to pick out the nymphs. It is best if you do not introduce a new species, which could be invasive.
Set up a 10-gallon tank and fill it halfway with water. Include plenty of sturdy objects for the nymphs to climb out on when they turn into adults.
Feed the nymphs mosquito larvae, other aquatic insects, worms and even such aquatic vertebrates as tadpoles and small fish.
Wait several weeks or months for the nymph to grow and leave the water.
Set aside several square feet of space for the dragonfly to roam around. Release live insects in the tank or closed-off area and let the dragonfly catch its prey.
Introduce the dragonfly to other dragonflies so they can mate. Allow a pregnant female dragonfly access to a calm body of water so she can lay her eggs.
Make sure the newly hatched dragonflies do not fall into the water, which could keep the exoskeleton from hardening.
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