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Meals on the Go Once a dragonfly catches its prey, what happens next isn’t pretty. T e dragonfly’s jaws open wide. Its jaws clamp down on the prey. It tears off the prey’s wings. Next, the dragonfly’s jaws crush


the insect. T en it swallows the mashed insect. While hunting, a dragonfly doesn’t


stop flying. It eats on the go. As soon as it’s swallowed one insect, it flies on, looking for more prey.


Ancient


Predator and Prey A dragonfly has to watch out when it hunts. It can become prey, too. T at’s right. Dragonflies have predators, too. T ese predators have ways to catch dragonflies. Some spiders catch dragonflies


in their sticky webs. Wasps chase dragonflies and sting them. T e wasp venom kills the dragonflies. Bats and some birds oſt en catch


dragonflies, too. T ese animals can fly faster than the dragonflies. Dragonflies also face other


Insects Over time, dragonfl ies haven’t changed much. One thing is a little different, though. Long ago, dragonfl ies were much larger than they are now. Today, a dragonfl y’s wingspan can be as wide as your hand. Long ago, a dragonfl y’s wingspan could be as long as your arm.


dangers. A female dragonfly lays her eggs in the water. Fish, frogs, and birds may attack her while she lays her eggs. When the eggs hatch, other predators, like songbirds, eat the young dragonflies.


Powerful Predator When a dragonfly isn’t running from predators, it’s searching for prey. It’s oſt en doing both at the


same time. A dragonfly is like an eating


machine, and it’s built to hunt. Its eyes, wings, legs, and jaws make it a powerful predator.


8 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER


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