On their Facebook page, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore asks which Lakeshore predator is almost 100% successful in catching prey? Is it the bald eagle? How about the red fox? Maybe the bobcat? The answer is Dragonflies!
Known for their beauty and delicate appearance, dragonflies are actually voracious predators. They are skilled hunters preying on a wide range of small insects. Their prey includes mosquitoes, flies, bees, ants, and even other dragonflies.
Dragonflies have exceptional flight capabilities, enabling them to chase and capture their prey mid-air. They have two sets of wings that they can move independently, allowing them to fly in all six planes.
Their large compound eyes provide them with excellent eyesight, detecting even the smallest movements.
Once a dragonfly spots its target, it will usually approach it from behind to minimize the chances of being detected. Dragonflies can fly at impressive speeds, often reaching up to 30 miles per hour. This allows them to close the distance between themselves and their prey quickly. Once within range, they extend their long legs to form a basket-like structure to catch and secure their victims.
Dragonflies catch their prey using their strong mandibles. These mouthparts are sharp and powerful enough to pierce and immobilize the prey. They are also equipped with a hollow tube-like structure called a proboscis. They use this to suck up the liquefied insides of their prey.
Dragonflies are beneficial insects in many ecosystems as they help control populations of pests such as mosquitoes. They play a vital role in maintaining the balance of insect populations.
In kind of a cool synchronicity, I took this photo 17 years ago this morning!!!