What Do Dragonflies Eat?

In this article, we will discuss the type of food that dragonflies in their natural habitat.

What are dragonflies?

There are over 5,000 species of dragonflies. Dragonflies are insects that belong to the order Odonata, which means “toothed one”. This is because dragonflies have sharp serrated teeth.

They are further categorized into the group, or clade, known as Anisoptera. This comes from the Greek words “anisos pteron”, which translates as “uneven wing”. This is due to the back hind wings of a dragonfly being larger than their front fore wings.

Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve on earth over 300 million years ago. Modern dragonflies have wingspans of only two to five inches, but dragonfly fossils have been found with wingspans of up to two feet long.

Dragonfly life cycle

Adult dragonflies have large eyes that almost encompass their entire head, so they have amazing eyesight and are able to see in many different directions, except directly behind themselves.

Dragonflies are predators, even when they are young. They hatch in fresh water and live in this aquatic environment for up to three years.

Dragonfly larvae are known as nymphs or naiads.  When they finally mature into adults, they emerge from the water to crack out of their exoskeleton, stretching out their wings to dry them in the air. Once they begin to fly, some species may live for just a few days, while others may survive for up to a year.

Adult dragonflies are often found living nearby to water and can fly many miles in just one day. The globe skinner dragonfly is known to migrate back and forth across the entire Indian Ocean; which equates to traveling over 11,000 miles!

They are experts at flying and can easily move in any direction or just hover in one place.

What do dragonflies eat?

What do dragonflies eat when they are nymphs and naiads mainly consist of tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, and other insect larvae. What do dragonflies eat has even been observed as being other young dragonflies, so they can be classed as cannibalistic carnivores.

When they have matured from the larval stage into adult dragonflies, what do dragonflies eat moves onto flying insects. Dragonflies catch their prey whilst flying through the air, using their feet to snatch up their prey.

What do dragonflies feed on?

What do dragonflies eat is mostly other flying insects, particularly midges and mosquitoes. They also will prey on bees, butterflies, moths, gnats, mayflies, and other aphids.

How many mosquitoes do dragonflies eat in a day?

Dragonflies are a great addition to many environments that suffer from large populations of mosquitoes. The average dragonfly can eat between thirty to several hundred mosquitoes in just one day.

People have successfully introduced dragonflies into some habitats to help control the population of mosquitoes.

This is especially important in areas where malaria-carrying mosquitoes thrive. As mosquitoes young are formed in water, dragonfly larvae will actually eat mosquito larvae before they grow into adults and potentially cause harm to humans. 

What do dragonflies and damselflies eat?

what do dragonflies eat

Dragonflies can sometimes be mistaken for damselflies, known by their scientific name as Zygoptera. This is because they look similar and both have serrated teeth.

Damselflies are often smaller in stature than dragonflies, but what do dragonflies eat is similar to the diet of damselflies. It mainly consists of small, soft-bodied insects such as aphids, mosquitoes, and gnats.

However, there is one difference in their diets, as when it comes to giant damselflies, they have been observed feeding on spiders, which has not been recorded among dragonfly populations.

If you love this post, please also read our recent article all about sparrows!

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