Dragonflies

September 09, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Everyone loves a dragonfly. They're colorful, graceful, and deadly killers:

African lions roar and strut and act the apex carnivore, but they’re lucky to catch 25 percent of the prey they pursue. Great white sharks have 300 slashing teeth and that ominous soundtrack, and still nearly half their hunts fail. Dragonflies, by contrast, look dainty, glittery and fun, like a bubble bath or costume jewelry, and they’re often grouped with butterflies and ladybugs on the very short list of Insects People Like. Yet they are also voracious aerial predators, and new research suggests they may well be the most brutally effective hunters in the animal kingdom. When setting off to feed on other flying insects, dragonflies manage to snatch their targets in midair more than 95 percent of the time, often wolfishly consuming the fresh meat on the spur without bothering to alight. Angier, Natalie, "Nature's Drone, Pretty and Deadly", New York Times, September 9, 2013.

Perhaps the best part of all may be that dragonflies eat mosquitoes! Here are a couple of shots of dragonflies from a recent visit to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens—one of the last places in DC that I would expect to get bitten by a mosquito.

A dragonfly rests on the stalk of a lotus.Green eyes, blue tail The Insect Predator


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