We studied the costs of lamellae autotomy with respect to growth and survival of Lestes sponsa damselfly larvae in field experiments. We manipulated predation risk by Aeshna cyanea dragonfly larvae and lamellae status of L. sponsa larvae in field enclosures and compared differences in numbers, size and mass of survivors among treatments. In the absence of a free-ranging A. cyanea larva, about 29% of the L. sponsa larvae died. This was probably due to cannibalism. The presence of a free-ranging A. cyanea reduced larval survival by 68% compared to treatments in which it was absent or not permitted to forage on L. sponsa damselflies. Across all predator treatments, lamellae autotomy reduced survival by about 20%. The mean head width and mass of survivors was lower in the enclosures with a free-ranging A. cyanea compared to the other two predator treatments. This suggested that larvae grew less in the presence of a free-ranging predator, indicating that increased antipredator behaviours were more important in shaping growth responses than reduced population density. Mass, but not head width, of survivors was also reduced after autotomy. The fitness consequences of these effects for the adults may be pronounced. In general, these field data strongly suggest that lamellae autotomy affects population regulation of damselflies.