Mature microRNAs (miRNAs) are processed from primary transcripts (pri-miRNAs), and their expression is controlled at transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. However, how regulation at multiple levels achieves precise control remains elusive. Using published and new datasets, we profile a time course of mature and pri-miRNAs in Drosophila embryos and reveal the dynamics of miRNA production and degradation as well as dynamic changes in pri-miRNA isoform selection. We found that 5' nucleotides influence stability of mature miRNAs. Furthermore, distinct half-lives of miRNAs from the mir-309 cluster shape their temporal expression patterns, and the importance of rapid degradation of the miRNAs in gene regulation is detected as distinct evolutionary signatures at the target sites in the transcriptome. Finally, we show that rapid degradation of miR-3/-309 may be important for regulation of the planar cell polarity pathway component Vang. Altogether, the results suggest that complex mechanisms regulate miRNA expression to support normal development.