Who is the baddest arthropod in the pond?

We often read descriptions of odonate nymphs as being voracious predators stalking the pond bottom and vegetated areas and possibly spreading "fear" among the various small denizens that could be prey. From some recent posts this may also include other odonates.

However the photograph above of a large dragonfly nymph (maybe Anax?) that was captured by a far smaller fishing spider (likely Dolomedes triton) indicates that spiders rule in this case. However the water tiger (Dytiscid beetle larvae) seen lurking in the photo to the right is also a powerful contender for the title as ruler of the tiny world of macroscopic pond life. Possibly the spider is fortunate that it lives mainly at the interface of the water and air and the water tiger only comes up to breathe and mainly hunts below the surface. However maybe a fight between the fishing spider and the tiger would be something worth watching? I think the outcome would hinge on who got their fangs into the opponent first.

I will admit this meeting of three arthropod predators was a setup in a plastic bowl after I netted them from one of our eight farm ponds. Does the spider ever capture odonate nymphs in nature? I do not know but it is fairly efficient at catching small fish and tadpoles or anything else that can be found near the surface. The spider certainly did not hesitate to grab this relatively enormous prey and apparently had no difficulty overpowering it.

Bill Dunson
Galax, VA & Englewood, FL