Dragonflies are the most effective predator in the animal world. How do other predators stack up?
The world can be a rough place for some animals. The capture of prey is necessary for survival, obviously, but not all species are in the same league in terms of effectiveness.
The dragonfly stands above the rest in this category. They have earned the distinction of successfully snatching about 95% of their targeted food. As if that weren’t a difficult enough task, the fact that their prey is usually captured in midair adds another reason to be in awe of the dragonfly’s unmatched effectiveness.
For some fresh perspective, compare the lion, for instance. It struggles to catch a quarter of all the prey it pursues. To take another example, look at the great white shark. For all its fearsomeness, it still manages to catch only about half the prey it goes after.
So what is the key to the dragonfly’s success? Scientists have found that they possess a nervous system that allows them to focus sharply on a single object. The neurons that connect the dragonfly’s brain to its flight motor center create a unique ability to follow a moving target, calculate its future position, skillfully change flight paths, and finally, capture a meal.
Then the process starts over again. Dragonflies go beyond having the capacity to capture prey just once. They have an appetite that can seem nearly impossible to satisfy.