A team of scientists from Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia wanted to know more about the methods of hunting used by dragonflies. The scientists discovered that dragonflies use a unique hunting strategy by using a predictive way and not a reactive way for hunting, by using an artificial fly to attract the dragonfly to hunt and ultra-high speed cameras. A predictive way of hunting means that the dragonflies use a unique hunting strategy when coming near to their prey and don’t just copy the movements of their victims.
Until now, experts thought that only birds, fish and mammals use predictive hunting strategies and not insects. Furthermore, they thought that dragonflies just fly around blindly after their victims (flies and bees) and copy all their movements until they are confident they can catch up with their prey.
The new research has proven the scientists wrong. It appears that dragonflies use a unique hunting strategy. In fact, these insects are very tricky when hunting, camouflaging their movements and the orientation of their bodies but don’t lose sight of their prey.
Scientists have said that if the dragonflies used reactive hunting strategies, every movement from their prey would have been copied exactly the same by the insect. However, when the fruit fly changed its direction of flight, the direction did not copy it and remained on its original trajectory 70 percent of all time. Additionally, the scientists said that dragonflies during the hunt plot a unique path for interception as three quarters of their movements in steering were different from the flight deviations of their prey.
Anthony Leonardo, a scientist that was part of the research team said that the insect aligns his body in the direction of flight from its prey but the dragonfly visually locks on its target. By using this method, the insect is capable of grabbing the prey from behind and beneath, two of the blind spots of the prey.
Leonardo and his team soon plan to examine how the neurons in the dragonfly get engaged in the process of hunting and how they send the right impulses to muscles in order of helping the dragonflies change their flight direction so suddenly.