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Tracking Prey

A dragonfly’s eyes tell it three important things. T ey tell the dragonfly how far away the prey is. T ey also tell how fast and which way

the prey is moving. A dragonfly’s brain tracks all of

this. It places images from each lens on mental grid. A grid is like the lines on graph paper. When a dragonfly is chasing a

mosquito, the dragonfly’s brain puts the mosquito image in one part of the grid. T e dragonfly focuses on that part of the grid. It keeps its prey in sight at all times.

Fantastic Fliers Once a dragonfly spots its prey, the dragonfly has to chase it. T e dragonfl y must get really close before it’s ready to attack its prey. So the dragonfly follows the mosquito very closely. It speeds up when the mosquito speeds up. A dragonfly can fly in many

directions. It can move up, down, forward, back, and side-to-side. A dragonfly can glide through the

air. It can hover like a helicopter. A dragonfly can fly upside down!

Wonderful Wings Many insects have one pair of wings. Dragonflies have two pairs of wings. Most insects’ wings are attached to

their bodies. When their bodies move, the wings flap up and down. Each wing on a dragonfly attaches

to a muscle. T is connection lets a dragonfly beat its wings together. Each wing can move by itself, too. T is combination lets the dragonfly move in many directions. Using its light but strong wings, a

dragonfly can fly higher and faster than most insects. Some dragonflies can fly 48 km (30 miles) per hour.

A Dragonfly’s Legs A dragonfly uses more than its eyes and wings when hunting. It also uses its legs. A dragonfly has six legs. In the air,

it bends its legs to make a basket. T en it scoops up its prey into the basket. Sharp spines on its legs cut into the insect. T is keeps the insect from flying away.

FAST FACT: A dragonfl y can eat hundreds of mosquitoes a day.

MARCH 2014 7

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