THE DRAGON-FLY AND HIS COMPANIONS
 EVERY country boy or girl, who wants to learn about
water animals, should make a pond net. You have only to
get a willow twig, and bind it into a hoop with string.
Then make a muslin bag and sew a small stone in the
bottom of it, and sew the mouth of the bag onto the
hoop. Get a stick out of the hedge and fasten to it a
long piece of string. Split the string near the end,
and tie it to the two sides of the hoop. Then you have
a net which you can let down and fish up animals from
the bottom of the pond. You had better have a
wide-mouthed bottle as well in which you can put what
you catch. I know a shady pond just outside a farm yard
at the turn of a lane. There on a bright sunny day the
insects are often very busy.
In one corner of the pond the little whirligig beetles
are swimming round and round, making circles in the
water. Their shining black backs look almost green in
the sun. Every now and then one jumps up to catch a fly
in the air, or another dives down to eat a grub. Drop
your net into the water and bring it up quickly under a
beetle, and put him in the bottle so that you can see
You will think that he has four eyes, for each of his
two eyes is divided. One half looks up
 into the air, and one half looks down into the
water. So as he whirls about, he can see the flies in
the air and the grubs in the water.
Gnats are flitting to and fro over the pond, and there
is quite a crowd of those large flies with gauze wings
which we call May-flies. And now a more splendid fly,
three inches long, with four big gauze wings rises out
of the bulrushes and flies over the pond.
All boys know the dragon-fly. His lovely wings are
covered with cross-bars filled with air, and they
glitter in the sunshine with red, blue, and green
colours. He has a long tail and a thick body with six
legs, and a round head with huge eyes.
Each eye has more than ten thousand tiny windows in it,
so that he can see up and down, right and left, as he
darts about, killing the
butter-  flies and moths that come in his way. Then he
settles down on a plant or bush by the water-side, and
rests till he starts off again across the pond.
If you go often in April to a pond where dragon-flies
are, you may perhaps see one begin its life in the air.
This is how it happens.
Under the water a large insect crawls up the stem of a
plant. He has a body as big as a dragon-fly and has six
legs. But he has a curious dull look in his face, and
where his wings should be there are only two short
He crawls very slowly up the stem, till he comes out of
the water into the air. Then a strange thing happens.
The skin of his back cracks, and out creeps a real
First his head, then his body with its six legs and
four soft, crumpled wings, and lastly his tail. He
cannot fly yet. He stands by his old empty skin, and
slowly stretches out his wings to the sun. In a few
hours they are long and strong and hard. Then he is
ready to fly over the pond and feed.
This is how the dragon-fly comes up to the air. You
will not find him so easily under the water, but we
will try next week with our net. We have seen so much
at the top of the pond to-day that we have not had time
to dredge in the mud below.
A.DRAGON-FLY GRUB FEEDING B.DRAGON-FLY CREEPING OUT OF GRUB SKIN.