In an attempt to establish an experimental dragonfly model, we developed a laboratory rearing system for the blue-tailed damselfly, Ischnura senegalensis. Adoption of multi-well plastic plates as rearing containers enabled mass-rearing of isolated larvae without cannibalism and convenient microscopic monitoring of individual larvae. Feeding Artemia brine shrimps to younger larvae and Tubifex worms for older larvae resulted in low mortality, synchronized ecdysis, and normal development of the larvae. We continuously monitored the development of 118 larvae every day, of which 49 individuals (41.5%) reached adulthood. The adult insects were fed with Drosophila flies in wet plastic cages, attained reproductive maturity in a week, copulated, laid fertilized eggs, and produced progeny. The final larval instar varied from 9th to 12th, with the 11th instar (56.5%) and the 12th instar (24.2%) constituting the majority. From the 1st instar to the penultimate instar, the duration of each instar was relatively short, mainly ranging from three to 11 days. Afterwards, the duration of each instar was prolonged, reaching 7–25 days for the penultimate instar and 14–28 days for the final instar. Some larvae of final, penultimate and younger instars were subjected to continuous and close morphological examinations, which enabled developmental staging of larvae based on size, shape, and angle of compound eyes and other morphological traits. This laboratory rearing system may facilitate the understanding of physiological, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms underlying metamorphosis, hormonal control, morphogenesis, body color polymorphism, and other biological features of dragonflies.
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Vol. 34 • No. 5