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What do Dragonflies Eat?

What do Dragonflies Eat?

Dragonflies belong to the Ordonata family and can be found throughout the world in places where there is a lot of water like rivers, dams, ponds and lagoons .    Although they are called flies they are not flies at all.  These insects are divided into three body parts, the head, the thorax and abdomen and their eyes are very big and take up most of its head.   Dragonflies have bright colors of greens, blues and reds and have four transparent wings.  The wings can beat 50 – 90 beats per second.

Dragonflies have very strong neck muscles and can turn their heads 180 degrees to the side, 70 degrees to the back and 40 degrees downwards.

These little insects can fly almost 30 miles per hour making them one of the fastest flying insects in the world and they can live anything from a few weeks up to a year depending on their species.

What do Dragonflies Eat?

Dragonflies are carnivorous predators and feed on other insects like mosquitoes, moths, bees, midgets and butterflies. They have excellent eyesight and can see in color.  Their incredible flying speed enables them to outfly their prey.  They grab their prey using their hairy legs and they have very strong jaws with which they crush their prey.

The nymphs will feed on tadpoles, mosquito larvae, midgets and other small insects.  The adult dragonflies feed on mosquitoes, midgets, bee’s, moths, butterflies and all kinds of other insects and even on other dragonflies.

Tadpoles and Small Fish

Dragonfly nymphs feed on tadpoles and small fish as they cannot fly.  They are bound to the water, where the eggs are laid.  Dragonfly nymphs have a strong, scary lip with which they feed, this enables them to eat tadpoles and small fish.

Mosquitoes

The adult dragonflies’ main diet consists of mosquitoes and mosquito larvae.  A dragonfly can eat hundreds of mosquitoes per day.  They can eat their own body weight within 30 minutes. With their excellent eyesight and flying skills it is easy for dragonflies to spot mosquitoes and mosquito larvae.

Midgets, Bees, Moths and Butterflies

Dragonflies will also eat midgets, bees, moths and butterflies. They are the super predator in the insect world, and because they are so fast they can outfly their prey and easily catch it.   All the nutrients they need are in the food they eat.

Dragonflies

Dragonflies are canibalistic insects and will prey on other dragonflies. As hunters they are fierce and can even outsmart their own kind.

Do Dragonflies Drink Water

Yes, dragonflies drink water with their mouths, but most of the moisture they need they get from the prey they eat.   They will also submerge themselves into water to soften their skin and the female dragonflies lay their eggs in water.

How to Feed Dragonflies

These insects can be attracted to your garden by setting up the perfect environment.  Ensure that there is a sufficient water supply, like garden ponds.  The water attracts mosquitoes, and mosquitoes which are their main natural food source, will be readily available.  Flowers and trees are also very important as they attract bees, butterflies and other insects on which dragonflies feed. Females need still water with lush plants to enable them to lay their eggs.

What do Baby Dragonflies Eat

Baby dragonflies are called nymphs.  The eggs are laid near or in the water, and they hatch within 2 weeks.  The babies do not look like the adults.  The babies have small wings, they are black in colour and they have a large lip which they use to catch their prey.  After about 2 years they crack open the exoskeleton and shed their skin.  The wings dry within a few hours.  After shedding their skins the bright colours can be seen.

Baby Dragonflies will feed on mosquito larvae, a variety of other small insects and small vertebrates like tadpoles, small fish and even small lizards.  The baby dragonflies or nymphs cannot fly and they live in water until they are fully grown, this is when they grow their wings and get their bright colours.

Do Dragonflies Eat Mosquitoes

Yes, mosquitoes are their main food source.  They feed on mosquito larvae and adult mosquitoes.  Because of their excellent eyesight and maneuvering skills it is easy for them to catch mosquitoes.  They hover over their prey like a helicopter and then move in for the kill.  These super predators can eat up 100 mosquitos a day.  If you have a mosquito infestation, introducing dragonflies into your garden will help their numbers decline rapidly.

Do Dragonflies Eat Wasps

Yes, wasps are a common food for these insects.  The dragonfly waits on a leave until the wasp is overhead and will then shoot from the leave to catch the wasp.  They lock their eyes on their prey, and can adjust their flying speed within split seconds. They catch 95% of their prey successfully.  This makes them more successful hunters than lions and great white sharks.

Are Dragonflies Dangerous

Dragonflies are not dangerous to humans.  They will bite and sting when they are caught but their bite is not poisonous.  In the insect world, they are however super and very dangerous predators.  Their jaws are very strong and they can eat other insects much larger than their own body weight. Their super eyesight, excellent flight maneuvering and speed makes them the most fierce predators in the insect world.

Dragonflies have been around for millions of years, apparently according to scientists since before the dinosaurs.

What Animals Eat Dragonflies

Though dragonflies are super predators, they do have natural enemies that will feed on them.  birds,  frogs, fish and even some flesh eating plants are dragonflies enemies.

These nematodes are also prey to frogs, fish and birds.  But these insects do have a secret weapon to protect themselves.  As soon as it is caught its legs will fall off allowing it to slip from the claws of the hunter.  The legs grow back during molting.

Dragonflies sometimes become the prey of the Sundew, which is a small flesh eating plant.  They look like leaves and as soon as the dragonfly sits on their leaves to wait for its prey, the dragonfly becomes the prey.