9 Things Dragonflies Like to Eat Most (Diet, Care & Feeding Tips)

Dragonflies are absolutely gorgeous creatures. They are delicate, multicolored, and come in so many different sizes that it can be hard to identify them at times. Keeping this in mind, there are tons of different species of dragonflies but what they eat is fairly consistent across the board.

Dragonflies Habits and Biology

Dragonflies Habits and Biology

Adult dragonflies can live nearly anywhere, they can be found in fields, in the forest, even in the city on occasion. Dragonflies are an animal that tend to keep to themselves and are rather solitary. When they are ready to mate, they do have to return to the water to mate as that is where they lay their eggs and wait for them to hatch.

For the most part, a dragonfly can mate and leave eggs in any sort of water however, they prefer water that is still and that has very little movement to the water for the vast majority of dragonfly species. There are a few subspecies however that do require moving water. Dragonflies will lay eggs in ponds and waterways that are manmade if they can find them and if they have the proper vegetation that is required for mating and spawning eggs.

The lifecycle of a dragonfly comes in three stages, the first is the egg, then the larvae or the nymph, then the adult dragonfly. The lifespan of a dragonfly is rather short, most only live about 6 months which corresponds with warmer weather. Since they are so delicate, they cannot survive in very cold conditions so areas that have very cold winters will only see dragonflies during late spring, summer and early fall.

The average size of a dragonfly is in the range of 1 inch to 4 inches. This is the most common size for the dragonflies that we see in the United States. There are some larger dragonflies however. The largest ever recorded is now extinct but had a massive 30-inch wingspan. Dragonflies are insects and they are made up of three segments, the head, the thorax and the abdomen and are protected by an exoskeleton. They also have four wings.

Here is a very interesting video about dragonflies.

Do Dragonflies Eat Dirt?

Dragonflies do not eat dirt, they are carnivorous and we will discuss further what they enjoy eating and what they need to eat to stay alive and to thrive overall.

What do Dragonflies Like to Eat Most?

What do Dragonflies Like to Eat Most

  1. Mosquitos
  2. Midges
  3. Butterflies
  4. Moths
  5. Bees
  6. Flies
  7. Gnats
  8. mayflies
  9. Other dragonflies

Dragonflies are totally carnivorous, this means that they eat meat and only meat. Since they are so small, they tend to eat other insects that are smaller than them or that they can easily catch. They tend to go for other flying insects as they are also airborne most of the time. Dragonflies are notorious hunters and will eat up to their own body weight in other insects through the course of a day.

Dragonfly larvae are just as big of eaters as their parents. A dragonfly larva will hunt out and eat other larvae that are in the water with then until they are able to take flight and catch other flying insects. Dragonfly larvae hunt and eat beetles, mosquito larvae, worms, tadpoles, and even worms. In some cases, for very large larvae of larger species, they will even eat very small fish.

The jaw of a dragonfly larva is very flexible and has hooks on it that help to catch the food as it passes. They lay in wait and as their prey swims or floats past, the lower jaw shoots out and catches the prey, and draws it back into the mouth. For adult dragonflies, the hunt is a bit simpler. They fly and open their mouths to consume their prey mid-flight. If they have a larger prey, they might use their legs to help hold it while they bite chunks.

Dragonflies are equal opportunity when it comes to hunting. They will literally hunt and eat anything that they can find and anything that is not larger than them. They tend to stalk their prey before they eat it and do eat all day, multiple times a day. They will eat whenever and wherever they can.

Foods that Dragonflies Should Avoid

Foods that Dragonflies Should Avoid

  • Poisonous bugs
  • Some plants
  • Insects that are larger and can fight back

Dragonflies are rather tough so to speak when it comes to eating. There are very few insects that they cannot eat or that are dangerous for them to eat. For the most part, there are not really that many insects that are dangerous for dragonflies to eat, save for those that are obviously poisonous to anything that eats them.

The real danger for dragonflies comes from those animals that are larger than them and that can ultimately eat them. When a dragonfly sets out to eat prey, it can be dangerous in that they might pick prey that is larger than them, prey that is going to fight back, or prey that they cannot take down on their own. An adult dragonfly is a rather good judge of what they can handle and what they can take on and in most cases, they are not going to try to take down an insect that they cannot get the better of.

They do have some enemies, birds like to eat dragonflies and when they are hunting they do need to keep track of birds and try to avoid them. In most cases, a dragonfly is not going to go anywhere near a bird and they are going to be fine when hunting. Since they are carnivorous, they cannot eat plants and they will avoid them as their digestive system is not built to process and handle plant matter as a form of food.

Dragonflies are not meant to be kept as pets, but if you do have a dragonfly as a pet you should make sure you feed them plenty of small flying bugs that they can hunt and catch on their own.

Tips to Feed a Dragonfly

Tips to Feed a Dragonfly

If you are set on a dragonfly as a pet you should take the time to learn how to properly feed them. This can also apply to those wild dragonflies that you might be feeding or watching around your home. To feed a dragonfly that you have in captivity you should take the time to feed insects that are as close to their natural food fare as possible.

If you are live feeding you want to introduce the food so that it can fly around and try to evade the dragonfly, giving the most lifelike approach as possible. You want to avoid feeding synthetic foods and foods that are already dead as your dragonfly might not be interested in hunting a bug that is already dead and that does not give chase.

When you do introduce the food to the tank you want to make sure you are giving enough food, the right type of food, and that you are allowing your dragonfly the ability to feed as close to the way they would if they were in nature and they were out eating food in the wild. Dragonflies are not really one to put on a show so allowing your dragonfly some privacy when they are eating may be necessary.

If you want to attract dragonflies to your home so that they can eat the pests that are annoying you, you should add a water feature to your yard that has plants around the edges where the dragonflies can perch and breed. You can also add hiding places to the water for the baby dragonflies. A still water feature is a great way to get dragonflies to come to your yard to eat the nasty pests that are bothering you.

Here is a great video about dragonflies in captivity.


1. What do dragonflies eat and drink?

Dragonflies mainly eat other insects. They are most likely to eat other flying insects that are going to be easy to catch while in flight. Dragonfly babies eat other larvae, tadpoles and even small fish on occasion.

2. what do dragonflies eat to survive?

Dragonflies are carnivorous, they must eat meat in order to survive. They tend to eat other insects that are smaller than them or that are easy to catch.

3. what do dragonflies eat in captivity?

Dragonflies eat the same foods in captivity that they would eat in the wild, they are just provided by the person or persons that are taking care of the dragonflies. They will eat insects that are smaller than them easily.

4. do dragonflies eat wasps?

dragonflies do eat wasps on occasion. The main issue is that in order for the dragonfly to be able to eat the wasp they need to be larger than the wasp and they need to kill it before it has a chance to sting them.

5. do dragonflies eat flies?

dragonflies do eat flies, it is one of their main food sources. They also eat fly larvae, mayflies, mosquitos and other smaller insects.

6. what eats dragonflies?

the main predator that dragonflies have to watch out for are birds and large fish. When a dragonfly is airborne it is more likely to be eaten by a bird while they are more likely to be eaten by large fish when they are skimming the water.

7. what do dragonflies eat besides bugs?

dragonflies do not eat anything but insects. They are fully carnivorous and their bodies are not equipped to eat other foods. They do drink water.

8. how much do dragonflies eat in a day?

adult dragonflies are likely to eat their body weight in insects through the course of a day. They eat almost continuously.

9. do dragonflies eat aphids?

yes, dragonflies will eat aphids on occasion.

10. Do dragonflies eat ants?

dragonflies are not likely to eat ants as they do tend to eat insects that are airborne as they fly.


Dragonflies are truly fascinating creature. Most people see them as delicate and dainty, when in fact, they are predators that can catch their prey mid-flight. These beautiful creatures are a great bug to study and they are super fun to watch and take note of as they fly through the sky.

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