Most people are unlikely to ask you which insects you like, but if they do, you can probably list them in seconds. With the exception of entomologists, most people only like a few insects that are harmless and attractive, such as ladybugs, butterflies, and dragonflies.
Despite their popularity, most people have no idea what dragonflies eat. These insects are predators, and both adults and nymphs (those that live in water) eat the insects that they hunt.
What Do Dragonflies Consume?
It is important to consider the different types of dragonflies when answering the question “what do dragonflies eat?” Adult dragonflies are fully developed, whereas dragonfly nymphs are immature and live in the water. Although both are predators, their diets are slightly different.
Dragonflies as adults
Adult dragonflies will consume any insect that they can catch. While they primarily consume mosquitos and midges, they also consume butterflies, moths, beetles, bees, flies, and even other dragonflies. The general rule is that larger dragonflies will consume insects equal to their body weight on a daily basis.
Most dragonflies will capture prey while it is flying in order to catch it. They can fly backwards, hover in place, turn in tight spaces, and accelerate quickly, and each of these abilities aids them in catching prey.
Dragonflies can use their legs to form a basket, allowing them to scoop up a bug and place it in their mouth without pausing. Other dragonflies simply open their mouths as they fly to swallow food.
Other dragonflies, on the other hand, glean their food, which means they catch insects that perch above plant stems and leaves. Immature adults will consume caterpillars that hang from trees.
The video below demonstrates how dragonflies hunt:
Dragonfly nymphs live in the water and hunt for their food on aquatic vegetation. When an insect gets too close, the dragonfly unfurls its labium, thrusting it forward and grabbing the insect with palpi. The larger dragonfly nymphs may also consume small fish or tadpoles.
Amazing Dragonfly flies
People who are curious about “what do dragonflies eat?” often have additional questions about these flying insects. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.
1. What Is the Origin of the Name “Dragonfly”?
The term “dragonflies” was first used by Francis Bacon in his book “Sylva Sylvarum: or a Natural Historie in Ten Centuries.”
This book contained numerous hypotheses, observations, experiments, analytic discussions, and ancient teachings on everything. The book was divided into ten chapters, each with a hundred items. The book, which used the term “dragon-fly” for the first time, was published in 1626.
Dragonflies were previously known as the Devil’s Darning Needle, Horse Stinger, Devil’s Riding Horse, Snake Doctor, and Adder Bolt.
2. Do dragonflies sting or bite?
It is common to inquire about two related issues, specifically “do dragonflies bite?” as well as “do dragonflies sting?” The short answer is that dragonflies do not bite or sting. If you hold a large dragonfly, it may try to bite you, but it will not break the skin. The stinging protuberances are actually egg-laying tubes, and dragonflies do not bite people.
3. What Is the Life Expectancy of a Dragonfly?
A dragonfly’s life cycle can last as little as six months, but larger dragonflies can easily live for six or seven years. A dragonfly’s life begins as a larva, when it lives beneath the surface of the water and catches other invertebrates.
Small damselflies can live for several weeks as free-flying adults, whereas large damselflies can stay in this stage for up to four months. Despite this, larger dragonflies rarely stay in this stage for more than two months, and damselflies only stay for two weeks at most. Dragonflies frequently die as a result of predation, starvation, or accidents.
4. What Are Dragonflies’ Foes?
Dragonflies, like any other insect, have a variety of predators. Dragonflies are eaten by birds (including hobby and wagtails), spiders, and frogs. Furthermore, as previously stated, larger dragonflies may eat smaller ones, implying that a larger dragonfly would be an enemy of a small damselfly. During their larval stage, dragonflies’ predators include kingfishers, newts, toads, frogs, fish, and other aquatic invertebrates.
5. How Quickly Do They Fly?
The speed of a dragonfly is determined by its species as well as its size. Large dragonflies can fly at speeds ranging from 25 to 30 miles per hour (10 to 15 meters a second). Despite this top speed, they are more likely to travel at a speed of 10 miles per hour on average.
The general rule is that smaller dragonflies, including damselflies, will fly more slowly. Medium-sized dragonflies, on the other hand, can often fly as fast as larger ones, despite their slightly smaller size.
6. How Sharp Are Dragonfly’s Eyes?
As previously stated, dragonflies have excellent vision and rely on it to locate and then catch small insects in mid-air. Dragonflies, like most insects, have compound eyes, which means that each eye has thousands of facets, each of which is unique and contains its own tiny lens.
Each of these individual lenses has a low resolution, but when they work together, they can produce a high resolution image. Indeed, the large number of facets enables vision that outperforms that of most other insects.
Dragonflies rely on their keen vision not only for hunting but also for spotting potential mates and avoiding predators.