Dragonflies - The Ultimate Predator
A pair of large, multifaceted, compound eyes, two pairs or strong and transparent wings, strong spiny legs, an elongated body…. What creature comes to mind? If you guessed (or just read the title) dragonfly, you are correct! Dragonflies come in different shapes, sizes and colors. They are beautiful, graceful, fun to look at, and great for gardens! But do you know exactly why they are great for gardens? Well, in great part that’s because they significantly decrease the number of pesky insects in the garden, while posing no harm to people, pets, crops, landscape plants or houses. And do you know how they’re able to decrease the number of pesky pests? Well, a great part has to do with them being the most efficient predator in the animal kingdom!
Can you believe that? The MOST efficient. Coming in weighing less than an ounce, with six legs and four wings, and often with a brilliant iridescent color, dragonflies have THE HIGHEST success rate of any predator. For example, here are some other carnivores (yes dragonflies are carnivores) who are known to be great hunters:
Wolves, who are successful less than 20% of the time.
Leopards, whose hunts end in failure 6/7 times.
Bengal tigers whose prey result in a kill 1/20 hunts.
Not bad if you ask me, but how does this compare to dragonflies? According to Harvard University researchers, dragonflies capture prey in 90-97% of attempts. Holy Moley! That is quite a jump!
How do they manage you may ask? According to neuroscientist Anthony Leonardo, “The[ir] brain uses a highly optimized hunting strategy that allows the dragonfly to predict where the prey is going and the appropriate muscle commands to intercept it.” That’s high-tech sounding stuff! How did they get so good? Well, dragonflies are one of the most ancient flying insects, predating dinosaurs, first appearing almost 300 million years ago, which is a long time to perfect those flying/hunting skills. Add the fact that they have the ability to fly speeds up to thirty five miles an hour, which helps avoid predators and catch prey, as well as the fact that they possess powerful serrated mandibles (jaw bones) used to hold and crush their prey, it is no surprise their hunt success rate is so high!
So next time you’re out in the garden and see a beautiful, flying dragonfly, take time to admire it, and just be thankful you’re not a mosquito!
If you are just as impressed as I am about these wonderful creatures, make sure to check out our beautiful selection of handcrafted Haitian metal dragonflies perfect for your garden available in our shop!