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Like all insects, the dragonfly has a three-part body: a head, a thorax, and a long, thin, segmented abdomen. The dragonfly has 2 large compound eyes that take up most of the head. On the short thorax there are three pairs of jointed legs and two pairs of long, delicate, membranous wings. The dragonfly breathes through spiracles (tiny holes in the abdomen).
Life cycle: A dragonfly undergoes incomplete metamorphosis. The larva hatches from an egg which is laid in water, in plants near water, or even underwater. As this aquatic (living in the water) larva (called a nymph) grows, it molts (loses its old skin) many times. When fully-grown, it emerges from the water, using the claws on its feet to crawl onto a plant. The dragonfly flies away over land. It only returns to the water to reproduce and continue this cycle. The life span ranges from about 6 months to over 7 years (most of it is spent in the nymph stage - the adult lives for only a few weeks).
Classification: Kingdom Animalia; Phylum Arthropoda (arthropods); Class Insecta (insects); Order Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies); Suborder Anisoptera (dragonflies), many families, including Family Libellulidae (skimmers or pond dragonflies).
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