We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Most Efficient Hunter in the Animal Kingdom?

What’s the best hunter on the planet -- an animal that successfully snares its prey 95 percent of the time? It’s the odd-looking but strangely beautiful dragonfly. This insect is a virtual machine when it comes to gathering food, often snatching oblivious flying insects right out of the air. Dragonflies are able to hover, dive, fly backward and upside down, pivot 360 degrees, and reach speeds of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).

These aerial gymnasts eat mosquitoes and other small insects -- flies, bees, ants, and wasps, as well as an occasional butterfly. They hunt around marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands.

Population control in the bug world:

  • One research team determined that the dragonfly's nervous system has an almost human capacity for selective attention, so it is able to focus on particular prey amidst a mass of fluttering insects.
  • Other researchers say that a neural network connecting brain and motor controls helps it track moving targets, calculate a trajectory to intercept a target, and adjust its path as needed.
  • “A dragonfly can be missing an entire wing and still capture prey,” says Dr. Stacey Combes, a researcher at Harvard. “Their eyes are the largest and possibly the keenest in the insect world, a pair of giant spheres each built of some 30,000 pixel-like facets.”
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.