Photographer Laid in Bog for Three Hours to Capture Dragonfly Shedding Its Skin

Wildlife photographer Andrew Fusek Peters caught the moment a white-faced darter dragonfly, typically found in peat bogs, molted and left behind its hollow exoskeleton.

Taken in Shropshire, the pictures show the dragonfly bursting out of its skin as it transitions into being an adult. Peters, 54, claims to have spent three hours in a bog awaiting the incredible moment.

The images are even more special given that the dragonfly is rare in the UK. The species was only reintroduced in 2010 after populations were devastated after the loss of 95% of the original peat bogs. 

Recalling the experience, he said:

This behavior is rarely photographed. I was lying on a duckboard sinking into the bog for around an hour-and-a-half while this wonderful insect unfurled its wings. It was only about a foot-and-a-half away from me so I needed to be extremely still — but it was thrilling to watch!

Once the process was finished, Fusek Peters said he was able to pick up the exoskeleton the creature left behind.

Dragonflies climb out of their pools atop plant stems before molting, shedding their previous exoskeleton to become an adult. The darter larvae — the species pictured here — splits its skin at the back of its head, before wriggling its new, soft body out and letting it harden.

Images courtesy, and used with the permission of, Andrew Fusek Peters.

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michaeljin's picture

"but it was thrilling to watch!"

I guess everyone has their own standard for "thrilling". I'm not sure whether to give a thumbs up for sticking it out to get the shot or suggest that the photographer needs a bit more excitement in his life. To each his own.

Guy Incognito's picture

Not only does everyone have their own standard of thrilling but people can also find more than one thing thrilling. I am sure this bloke is thrilled by roller coasters, scary movies, sex, & his favourite sports, too.

michaeljin's picture

So what you're basically saying is "To each his own."

Ok. 🙄

Guy Incognito's picture

No, I was pointing out you were being condescending. The fact he found this thrilling doesn't preclude the possibility he finds other more exciting things also thrilling, which is what you implied with "or suggest that the photographer needs a bit more excitement in his life."

michaeljin's picture

Ok. "I don't get it, but good for you." Better? 🙄

Eddy Waddel's picture

Mr contradict yourself...yes.

michaeljin's picture


Eddy Waddel's picture

Beautiful capture.. seeing that this is very complicated to capture and dragons are skittish...thumbs up and yes...that is excitement for me...being a photographer..these moments only come once...if ever.. Cheers ..

Lee Stirling's picture

You don't get to see that every day! Dedication and perseverance on the part of the photographer. Nice.

Jeff Burian's picture

For we nature photographers, this is excitement! Excellent images! I've spent many an hour waiting for the light to be just right, or an insect to land on the perfect spot. I have done this same type of series multiple times of butterflies emerging from their chrysalis. I applaud your patience in less than ideal conditions to capture these beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing.

Nick Viton's picture

We get these at the cottage, right around this time every year actually. They like to come up on the rocks right by the dock.

Nick Viton's picture

Crummy pics, I know (shot in jpg), but not really trying since I didn't realize how rare this was. We see these yearly up north.

Deleted Account's picture

Amazing photographs and a great achievement.

Mark Thomas's picture

Great captures. Just to be pedantic, the 'exoskeleton' is called the exuvia.