OtherPix: 6: Predators

This photograph, made in Turkey in June 2009, shows that predation between odonates does occur (in fact, as you probably know, it's quite common). In this case a female Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum) has caught and is now devouring a male Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata); a massive prey for a barely larger predator. It has always been our impression that predation between odonates is engaged in more often by females than by males, and maybe by females of the genus Orthetrum in particular. One explanation for this predation by females could be their greater need for high-protein food to help with their egg production. Note though that it would be a mistake (commonly and easily made) to consider this a scene of cannibalism; cannibalism in the strict sense of the word refers to predation by one member of a species on another member of that same species, which clearly is not the case here. So really the predator's behaviour in this photograph is not all that different from a person eating a nice juicy steak (albeit a pretty big one).

Orthetrum brunneum female eating Trithemis annulata male

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