When you think of dragonflies, you might think of idyllic summer scenes. Their beautiful jeweled bodies and iridescent wings flitting about beside a lake, tirelessly zipping about in the air above us, their behemoth observers. What you’re likely not thinking about is what a bloodthirsty and hyper-efficient killer the beautiful little insect is.
Yet recent research into dragonfly behavior, neurology, and physiology suggests that dragonflies are the most efficient predator in the animal kingdom. While many well known high profile predators—like the fearsome African lion and great white shark—fail to capture even half their prey, the dragonfly is 95 percent efficient during its hunts, devouring insect after insect and rarely missing its intended prey.
The secret to the dragonfly’s success is a brain-body connection singularly focused on the task. The connections between the dragonfly’s enormous multifaceted eyes, its brain, and its wings, are strong, direct, and allow the dragonfly to selectively track moving targets, calculate trajectory paths to intercept the target, and make adjustments to its wings in a fraction of a second. Further, the way the dragonfly approaches its targets decreases the chance of escape, as the dragonfly rarely chases its prey like a lion racing after a fleeing gazelle. Instead, it zips in low and fast behind it, snatching it out of the air before it’s even aware of the hunt.