Predatory versatility in a larval dragonfly, Hemianax papuensis (Odonata: Aeshnidae)



Larvae of the large dragonfly Hemianax papuensis used four disparate, prey-specific predatory behaviours. Arthropod prey moving on a substratum were stalked and then attacked from a distance. Arthropod prey moving in the water column or at the water surface were approached using ‘jet’ propulsion and then attacked from a distance. Snails, an unusual prey for an arthropod, were stalked; then the larva manoeuvred about them until a specific orientation was achieved before an attack was made from close range. Dead snails were scavenged, using tactics very similar to those used with live snails, but non-snail carrion was rarely taken. There was no evidence that the possession, by H. papuensis, of specialized behaviours for an atypical prey-snails-lowered its success when attacking other types of ‘typical’ prey.