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Dragonfly Nymphs

on June 1, 1991

Originally published in Creation 13, no 3 (June 1991): 39-42.

Tom and Jenny go to a pond to play. While there, they catch a nymph and they learn a lesson about Jesus' return for His people.

Tom and Jenny find a nymph

Tom and Jenny made a pond-net from a wire coat-hanger, a stick and some old tights. They took it to a big pond at the end of their orchard to try it out. They scooped along the muddy bottom and tipped their catch into a deep enamel dish.

There were 7 tadpoles, 2 pond-snails and some wriggly things which they discovered were midge and cranefly larvae. They added some pond weeds; then out of the mud walked an ugly brown creature nearly 2 inches (5 cm.) long with big eyes and six legs.

Mother told them this was a dragonfly nymph which would live in the pond for several months before it became a dragonfly. This was new to Tom and Jenny, so they were allowed to keep the dish in Tom’s bedroom.

Next morning, 3 tadpoles were missing.

They didn’t have legs. They couldn’t climb out!’ puzzled Tom.

I’m afraid your nymph ate them. They are dreadfully greedy,’ said Mother. ‘They have a long mouthpart with pincers at the end, called a mask. They shoot this out suddenly to catch prey.’

The children did not actually see this happen, but next morning most of the wrigglers and 3 more tadpoles had gone.

‘I don’t like it,’ said Jenny, ‘It’s a nasty, greedy creature. Put it back!’

No, let’s wait to see it turn into a dragonfly like we saw a butterfly come out of a chrysalis,’ said Tom.

‘Put a stick in the dish so it can climb out,’ advised Mother.

Three days (and the other tadpole) later, Tom was awakened at 6.am. by a clattering noise. He dived under the bedclothes as a big insect swooped at him.

Why, it’s the dragonfly! Jenny! Jenny! It’s flying around!’ cried Tom.

It took some time to rouse Jenny, but Mum came in to see what was going on.

‘Look at the stingers on its tail!’ Tom was ready to dive under the clothes again.

‘No, it has no sting.’ Mum told him, ‘It’s quite harmless. It uses that long tail to lay eggs under the water, not to sting.’

Jenny arrived, when she was sure it was safe.

‘Isn’t it noisy and big!’ she gasped. ‘How long is it?’

Mum guessed 3 inches (7.5 cm). ‘We must let it go; it will hurt its wings.’

She opened the window wide and the beautiful, gauzy creature darted across the garden.

Oh look!’ called Tom. ‘The nymph is still on the stick in the dish! I don’t get it.’ ‘That’s just the old skin,’ said Mother. ‘It splits across the back, and the dragonfly climbs out.’

‘But I still don’t get it,’ persisted Tom. ‘Where’s the chrysalis?’

‘It doesn’t go into one,’ explained Mother. ‘When the nymph is fully grown, it climbs out of the water, splits its skin and comes out.’

‘It still changes from an ugly thing to a beautiful one.’ remarked Tom.

Jenny was quiet during breakfast, thinking all this over. Then she began-

‘Mum, you remember when we watched the caterpillers, we said they were like us down on earth, and the chrysalis like when we died before rising up, like the butterfly to a new life. Well, the nymph doesn ’t go through the dying bit. It’s like us going straight from earth to heaven. Dad was telling us that one day Jesus will come again and all who believe in Him will be caught up to meet Him in the air, so they will go to heaven without dying. I think butterflies are like people who die before going to heaven, and dragonflies like those who will go up to be with Jesus without dying.’

Jenny, that’s a wonderful idea!’ exclaimed Mother. ‘In 1 Thessalonians 4: 16 we read, "The Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command.…and the dead in Christ will rise first. Alter that, we who are still alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever."

‘How exciting!’ said Tom. ‘Fancy going straight to heaven! I hope Jesus comes back in my lifetime!’

Tom and Jenny will be back in our next issue.