Their beauty is known throughout the world and they have various symbolism attached to them. Dragonflies also 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 colorful insects needs to grow.
We’re sure you’ve lamented about the annoyance of mosquitoes in the past. If you hate mosquitoes, then you should, by all means, adore dragonflies.
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 most likely find dragonflies.
- Gnats, aphids, midges, grasshoppers, flies, you name it, and the dragonfly will at least attempt to eat it. This is especially helpful since many insects they like to munch on like munching on your vegetables.
A dragonfly’s sharp eyes can spot even the tiniest insects crawling about on the leaves of your garden plants. They’ll swoop down and devour the pest before it ever has a chance to react.
If you have a heavy dragonfly population, then you’ll most likely see a dramatic decrease in some 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 you can do to make dragonflies come around.
If you want to draw dragonfly insects to your yard, your best bet is to have water nearby. Whether it’s an old sink with water or a small 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, dragonflies are mainly in swampy areas with lots of aquatic plants. This creates one of the best spots for them to hide their eggs.
Therefore, try to leave a few leaves at the bottom of the pool or water container. You can also plant some bamboo stakes near the water source to give them little rest stops.
No Pond? No Problem
The chances are you probably don’t have a pond. However, that’s not a real issue since dragonflies can travel great distances. If you live more than a mile from any sort of water source, be it a lake or a pond or a small river, you’ll likely still see a few of them.
So, how do you attract dragonflies without a pond? Simple. Just create a smaller, more manageable water source. Get a rain barrel, fill it with water and place it in the back of the yard, for example.
As long as the water is deep, it’s sure to draw dragonflies to your yard. However, they won’t breed in gutters, birdbaths, or other containers having small amounts of water.
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 use some natural mosquito repellent until then.
This is a surefire way to attract dragonflies without water. Certain plants will draw them to your yard.
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 dragonfly, scientifically known as Anisoptera, and otherwise called darner, frequent watery areas and is known for its sparkling wings and beautiful colors.
Additionally, these insects are labeled as good bugs, much like spiders, ladybugs, and praying mantises. Any of these beneficial insects is a great boon to a garden as they get rid of many unwanted pests.
Dragonflies 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 flying backward as well as forward and stopping on a dime. They also possess incredible eyesight.
You’ve just spotted your first dragonfly 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. About two feet deep is good enough.
Secondly, never use insecticides. Using insecticides to deal with pest problems will hurt dragonflies, reducing their numbers drastically.
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 dragonflies, but it does take a lot of effort, mostly in working to enact federal protection for their delicate habitats, which support a great number of valuable creatures alongside them.
Moreover, these helpful insects are some of nature’s best natural insecticides, so we cannot afford to lose them.
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.
As a result, it’s for this reason that we need to devote so much energy to their protection and awareness. See also: how to encourage lacewings in your garden.