Dragonflies are insect predators, which means they feed on other insects in order to survive. Dragonflies eat butterflies, but they often feed on mosquitoes and other flying insects that bite or sting, such as bees and wasps. Dragonflies do not eat butterflies alive—they merely use their proboscis to pierce the butterfly’s exoskeleton and suck out its juices, leaving the butterfly dead.
Dragonflies are large, brightly colored insects that are often mistaken for damselflies. Dragonflies have a long abdomen extending past their wings when at rest, whereas damselflies fold their wings over their abdomen. Dragonflies can be found near bodies of water from spring through fall in most parts of the world.
Because dragonflies are voracious consumers of flying insects, many gardeners like to keep them around to control mosquito populations.
Do dragonflies eat monarch butterflies?
Dragonflies are formidable predators that catch and eat other flying insects in flight. They may be best known for their ability to catch mosquitoes, but they eat a wide variety of other insects too.
Monarch butterflies are among their favorite prey. They’re big, so one dragonfly can fill up on just one monarch. They fly slowly and erratically, making them easy to catch. And on top of that, they often stop and rest on plants, giving the dragonfly a chance to sneak up on them while they’re not paying attention.
It’s not clear why monarchs often stop and rest on milkweed plants. Possibly it has something to do with the toxins in their bodies (see this previous post). But whatever the reason, if you see a monarch resting on a milkweed plant in mid-summer, there’s a good chance there will be a dragonfly sitting nearby watching it.
What is dragonfly’s favorite food?
When it comes to details about the dragonfly, there is a lot of information out there. But what is the dragonfly’s favorite food?
While some species do consume butterflies and other insects, most dragonflies prefer to dine on small aquatic animals like mosquito larvae, snails, and worms. However, larger dragonfly species with more powerful jaws are known to eat frogs, fish, and tadpoles. Basically, if it’s small enough for a dragonfly to eat, the chances are that it will. After all, when you grow up to be as big as a dinner plate (or even bigger), you need plenty of protein in your diet!
During the larval stage of their lives, dragonflies subsist on whatever food is available in their unique habitats, which can include mossy rocks in a stream or even on land. The majority of dragonfly larvae feed on other aquatic larvae, including mosquitoes and flies. As they mature into adults, they do not lose this predatory nature. In fact, they become even more voracious hunters that consume multiple preys per day.
Are dragonflies cannibals?
The simple answer is yes; dragonflies are cannibals—they eat their own kind. But the reality is that most dragonflies have specialized diets and specific hunting behaviors that make their prey choice quite limited, so cannibalism happens infrequently.
In order to understand how dragons eat, one must first know how they hunt. Most species of dragonflies are aerial predators, and as such, they pursue their prey in mid-air by chasing them or ambushing them by lying in ambush and waiting for a victim.
Dragonflies can fly with remarkable speed and agility, which makes them very effective hunters. When a dragonfly catches its prey, it grabs it with its legs, then uses its jaws to bite off pieces of the victim’s body and ingest them.
The majority of North American dragonflies are aquatic or semi-aquatic and hunt over or near water. In these cases, the diet of adults consists almost entirely of other insects that live near the water’s surface, such as mosquitoes, gnats, and flies, which make up about 90 percent of their diet. A small percentage of adults also eat spiders, butterflies, moths, and ants, but even this is rare in most species.