Why Dragonflies Are The World's Deadliest Hunters

When it comes to deadly predators, sharks, tigers, and crocodiles might be the first animals to come to mind, but as fearsome as these beasts are, they don't compare to the much smaller, deadlier dragonfly. These insects may look delicate, with their translucent wings and slender bodies, but they are some of the strongest insects in the world, according to Britannica. While dragonflies often eat small insects, they sometimes feast on prey that weighs almost half of their body weight, and in order to be able to do that, they must have some magnificent super powers.

As it turns out, dragonflies posses an amazing skill set. For starters, they have enormous eyes that allow them to see their surroundings with an almost 360-degrees view, per Britannica. This ability helps them to hunt, of course, but the eyes are only a part of why dragonflies have earned the title of being the most deadly predator around.

Dragonflies have a remarkable success rate

One of the things that makes dragonflies so deadly is their success rate. According to experts at Sandia National Laboratories, they are one of the most adept hunters, catching a whopping 95% of the critters they go after when looking for a meal. Dragonflies operate with such precision, they are being used as models for improving missile defense systems. But what is it that makes these tiny creatures so successful?

Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute discovered that one of the insect's abilities involves an acute sense of awareness. During an attack, they know where their prey is in relation to their own bodies, and they move based on how they expect their prey to move, instead of simply reacting to their target's movement. Researchers explained that this kind of maneuver is similar to how a person might react as they try to catch a football. But that's not all. Dragonflies also know how to position themselves below a target to avoid being noticed, all while keeping their eyes fixed on their prey.

Dragonflies are lightning fast

Dragonflies are the fastest flying insects, and they can reach up to 35 miles per hour, according to Smithsonian. This speed no doubt helps these insects get around, but they also have fast reflexes that improve their success rate when it comes to hunting down their prey.

Once a dragonfly decides to attack, it only takes around half of a second to do so, and it can attack while in flight. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories break it down like this: A dragonfly's reaction time for pouncing on its prey is 50 milliseconds. To put this into perspective, it takes about 300 milliseconds for humans to blink an eye. And speaking of those 360-degree eyes, dragonflies must move their heads remarkably fast to keep their eyes on their target as they proceed to attack them. The insect is aware of any subtle movements their prey makes, and can respond to them immediately, which makes them the kings of fast food.