|Teneral P. nymphula with its exuvium|
|Teneral P. nymphula showing the pale colour and hardening wings.|
This is a risky time for the damselfly - it is soft, unable to fly and prone to predation. The legs will have hardened first to allow it to grip the plant and leave the evuvium (you can see they are already patterned). Body fluids are then pumped into the wings to expand them from their crumpled wing-bud shape. As you can see, that has happened here and the fluid's colour is the reason for the faint greenish tinge they have. The fluids are them pumped into the abdomen to expand it and give the body its shape. If the wings or body are impeded they may harden in the wrong shape, meaning the damselfly either dies or is unable to fly (and so starves and/or can't find a mate). Even a heavy (relatively speaking) insect can make holes in the wing membrane, as can raindrops. The damselfly's only real defence is to stay hidden - when I got close it quickly flipped behind the leaf to hide itself. As the leaf is spiny and I didn't want it to damage itself, I kept out of the way after these couple of photos were taken.
If all goes well, within an hour, the adult has dried and is likely to disperse once the flight muscles are warm. Sexual maturity may take a few days during which they stay away from aggressive mature males. After this, they join the great mating game!
|Portrait of a mature P. nymphula|