by Karyn Brown
Many people are surprised to find that mosquitoes don’t have that many predators. Possibly because they are so small, most other animals don’t bother hunting them. Why should they, when the air is full of big fat moths and other insects that would make a more satisfying meal?
One animal that does prey on mosquitoes, however, is the dragonfly. This amazing insect was one of the very first winged insects and evolved over 300 million years ago. They have two pairs of wings, a long body (between 17 mm and 15cm) and large multifaceted eyes. Fossils have been found of dragonflies with wingspans up to 30 inches! Their two sets of wings work independently, allowing for tremendous maneuverability. They are found on every continent except for Antarctica, and they have been known to travel across oceans.
Adult dragonflies eat other insects including mosquitoes, and can consume hundreds of mosquitoes in one day. They are usually found around lakes, ponds and other water because their larvae are aquatic, just like mosquito larvae. In fact, even the dragonfly larvae eat mosquito larvae, so they are a double threat! Dragonflies do not bite or sting humans as adults although the larvae can deliver a painful bite.
The University of Texas published a guidebook called Dragonflies of Texas" that you can buy for less than $20 with a description of the many beautiful species native to Texas.
So next time you see one of these amazing insects skimming along the ground, you can thank it for all the hard work it does eating those pesky mosquitoes!