Their beauty is known throughout the world and they have various symbolism attached to them. Dragonflies provide many garden benefits and it doesn’t take much to attract them.
They are skilled hunters, but other species are strictly nectar feeders. For both of these reasons, they’re revered as true blessings in agriculture to any farm or garden.
Dragonflies (Odonata) are mostly harmless and far more beneficial than people give them credit for. They are not dangerous or poisonous to dogs or cats; however, they will bite to defend themselves.
If you’re an avid gardener, chances are that you’ll be wanting these pretty little predators gracing your doorstep.
Below we’ll discuss the purpose of dragonflies, how to attract them, as well as their garden benefits and unique facts.
The dragonfly goes through a three-cycle phase called the incomplete metamorphosis — egg, nymph, and adult.
From egg to adult, the lifecycle can span up to five years, most of which is in the nymph stage (baby dragonfly).
Nymphs live in marshes or ponds where the waters are calm. They may remain in that stage for as long as four years.
What do Dragonflies do for the Garden?
Though their meaning is symbolic in various cultures, here’s where the interest in these little guys needs to grow.
We’re sure you’ve lamented about the annoyance of mosquitoes in the past. If you hate these little annoyances, then you should by all accounts adore these beauties.
They serve a useful purpose in the garden and around the house. These are the main benefits of dragonflies.
- Mosquitos are their favorite food. And since mosquitoes are typically found near stagnant water, this is where you’ll find them most commonly.
- Gnats, aphids, midges, grasshoppers, flies, you name it, and the dragon fly will at least attempt to eat it. This is especially helpful since many insects they like to munch on like munching on your vegetables.
Their sharp eyes can spot even the tiniest insects crawling about in the leaves of your garden. Like a wraith in the night, they’ll swoop down and chomp it before it ever had a chance to react.
If you have a heavy enough population, then we can almost guarantee you’ll see a dramatic decrease in harmful insects and bugs in your garden for a week or so.
How to Attract Dragonflies
This is the big one. Let’s look at what attracts them.
If you want to draw large dragonfly insects to your yard, your best hope is to have water nearby. Whether it’s a birdhouse or a small, stagnant pond, make sure you have it.
It will bring them in by the droves, seeking a safe place to lay their eggs. And we know it goes against all instincts you might have, but resist the urge to keep the pond sparkling clean and spotless.
Remember, they are mainly in swampy areas with lots of foliage. This creates the best leaf cover to hide their eggs in.
Try to leave at least a few leaves at the bottom of the pool or water container and some foliage draped over the water for them.
You can also dig some bamboo stakes down into the ground to give them little rest stops. Besides, look for aquatic plants to place in and around the pond or pool for better attraction.
2. No Pond? No Real Problem
The chances are you probably don’t have a pond or else can’t afford one. And we don’t blame you; they’re a pricey investment.
But that’s not a real issue since these mobs can travel great distances. If you live less than a mile from any sort of water source, be it a lake or a pond or a small river, you’ll likely see a few of them.
So, how do you attract them without a pond? Simple. Just create a smaller, more manageable water source. Get a rain barrel and fill it with water in the back of the yard, for example.
As long as there’s a decent depth, it’s sure to draw the little bugs to your yard. Therefore, birdbaths aren’t going to work as well.
Dragonflies eat mosquitoes at all life stages. Yes, the dragonfly larvae even eat mosquito larvae.
With an added water source, you’re going to get quite a few extra mosquitoes as these little irritants also rely on water for breeding.
The good thing here though is that if you’re attracting mosquitoes, it’s only a matter of time before you attract the coveted dragonfly. So be patient and invest in a natural bug repellent until then.
Joe-Pye weed, black-eyed Susan, yarrow, borage, and coneflowers are all great flowering plants that attract dragonflies.
There are about 3000 species, most of which live in tropical areas. They are often mistaken for damselflies.
What Do They Eat?
Their diets mainly consist of flying insects such as mosquitoes, flies, moths, midges, butterflies, and even baby dragonflies.
Where Do They Live?
You will find dragon flies all over the world except the continent of Antarctica.
Habitat varies, depending on which stage they’re in. They spend most of their lives in the water as a nymph, after which they mature into an adult stage which lasts for approximately two months.
Adults hang out and sleep mainly around wetland areas.
A Harbinger of Help
A dragonfly, scientifically known as Anisoptera, and otherwise called darner, frequent watery areas and is known for its sparkling wings and beautiful colors.
For more facts; these insects are often labeled under the category of good bugs, much like spiders, ladybugs, and praying mantises.
Any of these bugs is a great boon to a garden, as they take care of unwanted pests hoping to make a meal of your produce.
Through the Ages
These amazing little critters have been around since the days when insects ruled the earth in the Silurian age, where the higher concentration of oxygen in the air caused some species to grow as big as bald eagles.
Thankfully, they’ve shrunk since their glory days and now mostly reach a max wingspan of about seven inches across.
They start their lives as nymphs hatching from tiny eggs and living in the water for about five years before maturing into adults and leaving the water permanently.
As mentioned earlier, the lifespan of adults is only for a few months and they live fast, eating everything in sight and reproducing quickly.
Dragonflies come from the Odonata order in the animal kingdom, sharing their line with their cousin, the Damselfly.
They’re capable of amazing feats of aerobatics, capable of flying backward as well as forward, stopping on a dime, and possessing incredible eyesight.
You’ve just spotted your first beauty alighting on your water source! Hurray! Now that you’ve accomplished your goal, you have to protect them.
Firstly, make sure that the water source you’ve created stays at a certain depth, creating a haven for their eggs. You don’t want it to get too shallow.
Secondly, and this one is most important, never use insecticides. Darners are resilient, but now they’re facing a true danger — humans ignorantly using insecticides to deal with pest problems faster.
This hurts them as well, damaging their numbers drastically. Don’t use them and try to advocate that people near you ignore them as well.
A Precious Treasure
Of the 307 species of North American dragonflies, many experts agree that roughly 15% of them are critically endangered. Many of these are the species that dwell in small streams and ponds specifically as their ordained habitats.
Unfortunately, with construction and agriculture, we’ve caused these habitats to shrink or even completely disappear, thus threatening the stability of the species.
We can protect them, but it does take a lot of effort, mostly in working to enact federal protection for their delicate habitats, which support any number of valuable creatures alongside them.
These are some of nature’s best natural insecticides, so we cannot afford to lose them. Well, unless you don’t mind getting bites from ravenous mosquitoes every year.
Dragonflies compare to hummingbirds, both in beauty and their feeding habits. These creatures are some of the most beneficial insects we have readily available to assist us in our agricultural needs.
It’s for this reason that we need to devote so much energy to their protection and awareness. They do more for us than many of us would ever realize.