How to attract dragonflies

How to attract dragonflies

And how do they direct these tremendous talents? Dragonflies hunt, and eat, a lot: They consume 10 percent to 15 percent of their own weight per day on insects such as mosquitoes, termites, deerflies, blackflies, horseflies and midges. They make welcome residents in the yard, as they’ll keep it far less buggy. Think of it as the insect equivalent of getting a cat to solve your mouse problem.

If you want to attract dragonflies to your yard, the best lure is a body of water. Dragonflies lay eggs in or near water, where their young hatch and develop into nymphs. They live underwater for months and sometimes years before emerging as adults. But even as nymphs, they are voracious eaters, happily dining on mosquito larvae and other underwater creatures.

To bring in the dragonflies, you can either create a pond or make sure that the bodies of water near your property are dragonfly-friendly.

A pond doesn’t need to be large, nor does it require a filter, but it does need several key features. It should be located in an area that is protected from wind but will get five or six hours of midday sun.

The depth should vary from very shallow at the edges to about 2 feet at its deepest level. A pond that is too shallow can overheat or dry up, and the deep areas provide refuge from predators like our dragonflies.

Put plants in and around the pond. Plants, both submerged and floating, add oxygen to the water and remove carbon dioxide. They provide hiding and resting places for nymphs and are used as incubation chambers, because some species insert their eggs into the soft stems.

Tall plants that stick out of the water provide places for adult dragonflies to perch and scan for food or mates. They also allow a place for the nymphs to climb up to undergo their transformation process from nymph to adult. Dragonflies must pump up their wings before they can be effective fliers, but they emerge with soft bodies. It takes several days before the wings harden completely and take on the colors of an adult dragonfly.

What you plant around the pond is also important. Dragonflies like to find an elevated perch from which they can keep an eye on their favorite feeding and breeding spots. They are aggressively territorial and will chase away or even do battle with their competitors. If you prefer, you can plant ordinary bamboo stakes near the pond. The insects will also appreciate a few flat rocks placed near the pond’s edge, as rocks provide surfaces to bask in the sun.

If you want a pond that supports breeding populations of dragonflies, don’t introduce fish, frogs, or ducks. These creatures will prey on the nymphs and eggs. And of course, keep all poisons and fertilizers out of the water.

Experts say that about 15 percent of North America’s dragonfly species are in danger of extinction. Attracting dragonflies to your yard helps you do your part to protect these beneficial bug-zappers while cutting down on the bugs that really bug you.

How to attract dragonflies

Dragonflies, one of the oldest known insects, are attracted to boggy, wet areas and are often found hanging around garden ponds and fountains. These beneficial creatures can be an asset to the garden, keeping menacing insects to a minimum. Keep reading to learn what plants attract dragonflies so you can invite these helpful insects to your garden area.

Dragonfly Information

Dragonflies in the garden are harmless to people and do not sting or bite. They are elegant insects that keep the fly and mosquito population in check. They consume their own body weight in bugs each half-hour, so having a few of these beautiful winged creatures around is a great help to outdoor enthusiasts.

Attracting dragonflies to the garden can greatly decrease the number of pesky insects in the area. Able to fly at speeds up to thirty miles per hour, dragonflies can easily avoid predators like frogs and birds. Their large, compound eyes help them catch their prey in mid-air without missing a beat.

Female dragonflies lay their eggs in muddy or wet areas. Nymphs hatch in about three weeks and will live in the water for almost two years. Dragonflies are very sensitive to air pollution, so if you have a large number of dragonflies, it may be a good indication that your air quality is good.

How to Attract Dragonflies

When attracting dragonflies to the garden, experts recommend installing a pond that is at least twenty feet (6 m.) in diameter. A pond of this size will support all stages of dragonfly development. A depth of 2 feet (61 cm.) with shallow, sloping sides allows a place to plant water-loving vegetation. The pond is best if positioned in a sunny location. Don’t put fish in your pond, as they feed on nymphs and will hinder your efforts to support the dragonfly population.

In addition to a pond, you can implement a small bog or rain garden, especially if you have areas of the yard with poor drainage that are prone to standing water. You can also install several 3-foot (91 cm.) stakes, about 6 feet (1.8 m.) apart throughout your garden. The winged beauties will land on these stakes, using them as a perch. Avoid using any pesticides or bug zappers in your garden.

What Plants Attract Dragonflies?

A wide variety of plants is best to support a thriving dragonfly population.

Submerged vegetation such as dwarf sagittaria, which grows well in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 through 10, is a great option as it provides a place for nymphs to rest and seek food.

Floating plants that are not rooted under the water are also necessary for any dragonfly habitat. Females will lay their eggs on the underside of the plant or on the stems. The Western water lily is hardy in zones 10 and 11 and fanworts, which will grow in zones 6 through 11, are attractive options.

Emergent plants are those that are rooted on the bottom of ponds but have stems and leaves that rise out of the water. Dragonflies love these plants because they use them during both nymph and adult stages. Water horsetail grows well in zones 4 through 11 and is a lovely dark green emergent plant that has a hollow stem with a few branches.

Shoreline plants also provide adult dragonflies with a place to hide and hunt. Also known as marsh plants, shoreline plants thrive in moist soil and include such plants as arrowhead, in zones 4 through 10, and the popular cattail, which thrives in zones 2 through 11.

How to attract dragonflies

Many people like to make their yard as welcoming as possible to allow for other insects and birds to visit. The dragonfly is a very popular insect that is renowned for its large eyes, and a couple of pairs of incredibly strong wings.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the dragonfly is the elongated body. Many people often mistake dragonflies to damselflies, both of which share a similar structure, though the latter has a considerably lighter build.

Dragonflies can often be seen in wooded areas and gardens, primarily because they like to eat other flying insects. They primarily feed on mosquitoes and midges, and in some cases, also eat butterflies, other smaller dragonflies, and also moths.

There are many reasons why you would want to try and create a more welcoming environment for dragonflies in the yard. Due to the build structure, they are often quite adapted to capture other flying pests. The webbed arrangement of legs that they have is also a plus point.

What Are the Benefits of Dragonflies in the Yard?

There are a plethora of reasons why you would want to attract dragonflies to your yard. Here are just a few major benefits that you get for attracting dragonflies to your yard.

Eat Spiders and Mosquitoes

As mentioned above, many adult dragonflies tend to feast on other flying bugs, mosquitoes, and also spiders. They also eat smaller dragonflies and butterflies.

Moths are an easy target, as well as small insects such as small fish, bloodworms, and aquatic larvae. As a result of that, it can be said that dragonflies eat mosquitoes that can spread malaria.

Balances Insect Predators

If you take a look at the ecosystem in your yard, you will realize that there is a fine balance between the number of pests and the number of insects. Dragonflies are able to control the infestation of pests.

If you like gardening, you won’t have to worry about using harsh insecticides to control the infestation in your garden.

Aesthetic Appeal

If you simply look at these insects from a distance, you will realize that the aesthetic appeal they offer is pretty incredible. They have a metallic color on their body and their unique appearance, along with their elongated body, makes them a sight to behold.

They can add a touch of beauty to other water bodies, ponds, and streams. They’ll also get rid of the flies for you.

Ecological Advantages

To maintain the ecology of any water body on your property, dragonflies play an incredibly important role. They tend to live near fresh water bodies and they don’t have a bite or a string either.

They offer a myriad of ecological advantages to different areas.

Augmenting Mosquito Population

Augmentation is the process where a predator is released within an environment to control the population. In many cases, they are released in the environment to control the population of mosquitoes in the house.

Biological pest control is often regarded as the best option and it’s a great choice for people who want to make sure that they do not have to worry about mosquitoes or malaria in the house.

Now that you know the benefits, there are a number of different techniques that you can use to attract dragonflies to your yard. Here are a few different techniques that you can use to attract dragonflies to the yard.

How to Attract Dragonflies to Your Yard

1 – Adding a Water Feature

One of the biggest methods that you can use to attract dragonflies to your yard is to add a water feature. Dragonflies are aquatic insects and they lay their eggs in the water.

They tend to spend the rest of their time perched on vegetation in the surrounding area. Some dragonflies tend to prefer standing water, while others like a flowing body of water.

If you are thinking of doing some renovation work in your yard and want to add a new feature, you should consider adding a water pond. To make it more idyllic and beautiful, you can also add a small waterfall to the pond as well.

It looks really good and will add a touch of class to your garden. On top of that, it’s also going to attract these aquatic insects.

However, an important thing to keep in mind here is that the water body should be at least two feet deep. Otherwise, you won’t be able to attract dragonflies or damselflies, only mosquitoes.

2 – Plant Some Vegetation

Adding a bit of vegetation in or around the water is a great way to provide even more protection to the dragonfly. They often need a few different types of vegetation to give protection to their eggs and their nymphs.

Usually, emergent vegetation is a great idea, because it provides partial protection. These floating plants also provide a way out for the nymphs.

These floating plants usually provide a perch for the dragonflies to rest and lay their eggs. Nearby trees and shrubs then provide a place for the dragonflies to perch on.

3 – Add Some Pollinator Plants

Once you have a water source in place, you should know that it is going to provide a pretty steady food intake for the dragonflies. There are going to be quite a few mosquitoes around the water feature, so the dragonflies will have plenty of food available.

However, it’s also going to attract other insects that are going to eat the mosquitoes as well. That is one of the main reasons why you should consider adding pollinator plants into the mix as well. Pollinator plants such as irises, buttercups, and lilies are a great choice.

This will attract even more damselflies and dragonflies to your garden. It’s a great choice because these plants are another source of attraction for these insects.

The best thing that you can do is to add some plants that provide an elevated perch around the plant. Dragonflies like to sit on perched plants and they are quite territorial.

If you have a water feature in your garden, you should know that it requires adequate maintenance. Moreover, once the dragonflies have laid eggs in or around the water feature, you should avoid tampering with it too much.

There is a strong risk that you will end up causing damage to their eggs and killing them in your desire to maintain it as well. You have to be quite cautious when you see a large population of dragonflies hovering around your water feature.

But, one of the best advantages that you get for attracting dragonflies to your garden is that they are not harmful to humans at all. They don’t have a bite or a sting.

It’s also important that if you want a growing population of dragonflies, you should avoid introducing fish or ducks or even frogs to the water feature.

These are just a few things that you should know about attracting dragonflies to your yard. It’s recommended that you avoid being impatient because it’s going to take a while for the dragonflies to find your water feature and then call your water feature a home.

Luckily, mother nature has created a solution to this problem: dragonflies. Not only are the insects beautiful, but they have the ability to eat 100 mosquitoes a day! And it’s not just the full-grown ones contributing—dragonfly larvae typically consume the most mosquitoes.

Now, in order to use this secret weapon that mother nature has provided, you have to know how to attract dragonflies. This can easily be done by planting specific plants in your garden (Bonus: the plants are just as beautiful as the dragonflies):

B/aD0xMzY1O3c9MjA0ODthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_pioneer_woman_178/e240ce26b10478c0ca432f2d233513b6″ data-headline=”Dragonflies Help Eliminate Mosquitoes, So Try Planting 4 Types of Flowers to Attract Them”>

Dragonflies Help Eliminate Mosquitoes, So Try Planting 4 Types of Flowers to Attract Them

Face it: we all hate having to keep a bottle of bug spray handy to fight off the swarm of mosquitoes whenever we want to relax in our backyards. Bug repellents can be messy and a hassle to use (not to mention you have to reapply it like, every hour).

Luckily, mother nature has created a solution to this problem: dragonflies. Not only are the insects beautiful, but they have the ability to eat 100 mosquitoes a day! And it’s not just the full-grown ones contributing—dragonfly larvae typically consume the most mosquitoes.

Now, in order to use this secret weapon that mother nature has provided, you have to know how to attract dragonflies. This can easily be done by planting specific plants in your garden (Bonus: the plants are just as beautiful as the dragonflies):

If you’re a low-maintenance gardener like myself, this is the perfect plant to add to your garden to help fight against those pesky mosquitoes. This radiant plant can survive in almost any type of soil and only requires sunlight and to be watered regularly to bloom.

B/aD0zMzM7dz01MDA7YXBwaWQ9eXRhY2h5b24-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_pioneer_woman_178/1e79035c36173cd746dddc9387fdfa0e” data-headline=”1) Black Eyed Susan”>

1) Black Eyed Susan

Seed Kingdom

If you’re a low-maintenance gardener like myself, this is the perfect plant to add to your garden to help fight against those pesky mosquitoes. This radiant plant can survive in almost any type of soil and only requires sunlight and to be watered regularly to bloom.

At first glance you may think this plant is a weed or a type of grass, but it’s not! It is an aquatic plant that needs hard water and a nutrient-rich substrate to grow. But don’t worry, this plant is beginner friendly for all the aquatic plant newbies—so long as you have a body of water to put it in.

B/aD0zMTM7dz01MDA7YXBwaWQ9eXRhY2h5b24-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_pioneer_woman_178/c56f34b7efdb03cd503caaf0b973f1ae” data-headline=”2) Dwarf Sagittaria”>

2) Dwarf Sagittaria

Aquarium Plants Factory

At first glance you may think this plant is a weed or a type of grass, but it’s not! It is an aquatic plant that needs hard water and a nutrient-rich substrate to grow. But don’t worry, this plant is beginner friendly for all the aquatic plant newbies—so long as you have a body of water to put it in.

How to attract dragonflies

Share:

The dragonfly and its smaller cousin, the damselfly, belong to an ancient order of insects known as Odonata and have carried symbolic meaning for centuries. Most people love to have dragonflies in their gardens, if only because dragonflies love to eat mosquitoes.

Who hasn’t marveled at the aerial abilities of dragonflies as they glide effortlessly over sparkling streams, pristine ponds, and lakes, plucking insects from the air with deadly precision?

Dragonfly Facts and Life Cycle

Surprisingly, these brilliantly colored masters of the air are classified as aquatic insects because they spend most of their lives as larvae underwater among plants or in silt. They may spend five years or more in the larval stage, molting several times before emerging as adults—and then living only a few weeks to a few months.

With keen eyesight and expert airmanship, dragonflies and damselflies easily outmaneuver and catch insect prey. Their four gossamer wings move independently of one another, giving them the ability to fly forward, backward, and sideways, or to just hover in place. Bead-like eyes provide 360–degree stereovision, allowing them the ability to spot insects in any direction without turning or moving their heads. (In fact, dragonflies have the biggest eyes in the insect world.)

Dragonflies and damselflies, though similar in their life cycle and appearance, fly differently. You can distinguish them by noticing that dragonflies fly directly and with purpose, while the damselfy’s flight is more fluttery. The damselfly also has a slightly longer abdomen.

How to attract dragonflies

A damselfly has the same captivating appearance as a dragonfly, but it is a bit smaller and its eyes are farther apart.

What do dragonflies eat? The dragonflies’ and damselflies’ fondness for mosquitoes puts them in the category of beneficial insects, but they eat many other annoying bugs. Their diet includes midges, moths, flies, and other flying insects. Unfortunately, they also sometimes eat butterflies. This means that planting flowers that attract butterflies might keep your yard full of both species.

Dragonflies aren’t just beneficial as mosquito-eaters. Their role as barometers of wetland health is also very important. In order to survive, odonate larvae need clean, well-oxygenated water. Drainage of wetlands, pollution from farming and industry, and the development of new roads and houses have increasingly reduced dragonfly habitat. Conservation of existing wetlands is key to odonate survival, as is providing new habitats for them to colonize.

Fossil records show that dragonflies were around for 100 million years before the dinosaurs. These prehistoric predators had wingspans of over three feet and are the largest insects known. Imagine if they were that big now—a dainty dragonfly landing on your finger would not seem quite so charming!

Dragonfly Meaning and Symbolism

  • Many Americans believe that it is good luck if a dragonfly lands on you without prompting. Dragonflies are also a symbol of good luck in Chinese tradition.
  • Dragonflies have been a notable part of folklore in many countries, especially Japan. Japanese tradition views dragonflies as symbols of swiftness and as a sign of summer and autumn.
  • Dragonflies have been a symbol of purity, activity, and swiftness for some Native Americans. The indication of purity comes from both the pure water in healthy aquatic habitats where dragonflies thrive and from the fact that they eat their food right out of the wind.
  • Some common names for dragonflies are “Mosquito Hawk,” “Devil’s Darning Needle,” and “Snake Doctor.” Mosquito Hawk stems from the dragonfly’s favorite food, Devil’s Needle stems from very old traditions indicating that dragonflies were evil, and Snake Doctor stems from the fact that dragonflies can often be seen in the same habitat as snakes and sometimes even interact with them.

How to Attract Dragonflies to Your Garden

  • Constructing a pond or other backyard water feature will attract a surprising number of dragonflies and damselflies. Size is not crucial, but dig the basin deep enough so that the water won’t freeze solid in the winter. Plant a few native plants at its edge for wind protection. The pond should get at least partial sun.

How to attract dragonflies

Dragonflies are born and spend most of their lives in aquatic habitats, so you can attract them by building a pond in your yard.

  • If you already have a pond in your yard or are considering building one, it helps to have some vertical plants coming out of the water. This is where the female dragonflies and damselflies will lay their eggs.
  • By providing needed habitat, you can help save dragonflies as well as damsels in distress.
  • Be aware of the pesticides you are using to get rid of annoying bugs like mosquitoes—they also might be harming beneficial insects like dragonflies. Look at our tips for how to deter mosquitoes instead. Remember that if you’re not controlling the mosquito population, hopefully the dragonflies will!

You can read more about the marvels of dragonflies in this blog about appreciating the beauty of the insects with rainbows for wings.

No more bug spray!

How to attract dragonflies

Picture this: you’re sitting in your backyard, enjoying the sunshine, maybe sipping a lemonade. Then WHAM! A large, fast bug whizzes past your head. If that bug is a horsefly, you can worry a little bit. But if that bug is a dragonfly, fret not—it’s one of the best insects to have around, especially because they’ll eat up all the mosquitos. “Dragonflies love to eat mosquitoes and gnats and can help cut down on them,” says Allen Gibbs, an insect expert and life science professor at the University of Las Vegas.

There are more than 5,000 species of dragonflies and their brethren, damselflies, and they can be found all across North America, from the coasts to the deserts to the mountains. Generally harmless to humans (they can bite in self-defense, though they won’t do so unprompted), their appearance can be a little disconcerting at first, given that they can grow to have a wingspan of up to seven inches. But take a closer look at a dragonfly, and you might notice iridescent hues throughout its body and delicate patterns in its wings—they’re actually rather beautiful. “They are very pretty and fun to watch,” says Gibbs. “Dragonfly watching has become a growing hobby in recent years.”

So how can you attract dragonflies to your backyard or garden? “Water!” says Gibbs. “Dragonflies are aquatic insects. They lay their eggs in water and the larvae grow up in water.” While something like a small wading pool can attract dragonflies, you’re best off with a larger pond, one that’s about two-feet deep with sloped sides. “Put vegetation nearby so the adults have places to perch, and a few good-sized flat rocks for sunning,” says Gibbs. “Aquatic plants will provide cover for the larvae.” Just make sure you don’t keep fish in your pond, because they’ll eat the larvae, and that definitely defeats the whole purpose.

Now, as many homeowners know, stagnant water—like your dragonfly-attracting pond—is a potential breeding ground for mosquitos, which you obviously don’t want! Gibbs suggests placing a mosquito dunk, a small disk “which releases a bacterium that attacks mosquito larvae but not dragonfly larvae.” In fact, this is something you could place in a fish ponds, too, as it’s harmless to pretty much everything besides mosquito larvae.

You can also attract dragonflies by adding these specific plants to your garden. (Bonus: the plants are just as beautiful as the dragonflies!)

Share this:

  • Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
  • Click to print (Opens in new window)
  • Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)

Dragonflies are among the most graceful — yet ferocious — insect predators in the animal kingdom. They have the ability to hover languidly like a helicopter or zip by at breakneck speeds and snatch unsuspecting prey out of thin air.

“Dragonflies are some of the most ancient and audacious animals on the planet,” said Bryan Pfeiffer, president of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas. “They are spectacular insects, really elegant and forceful expressions of life in the wild, even in your own backyard.”

Attracting any of the over 150 species of dragonflies in Maine to your yard is not only healthy for local ecosystems, but also provides endless potential for observation and entertainment.

Phillip deMaynadier, wildlife biologist at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), said that the first thing to note is that when people say “dragonflies,” they are almost always talking about the insects in the order Odonata, which includes both dragonflies and their close cousins, damselflies.

“Some people think that damselflies are female dragonflies, which is kind of a cute and charming thought, but it’s not true,” deMaynadier said.

Damselflies are generally thinner and hold their wings folded in when they land, as opposed to out like an airplane as dragonflies do. Both, though, are spectacular aerial acrobats that will dine ravenously on mosquitoes, black flies and other flying nuisances.

Dragonflies and mosquitoes

Dragonflies’ insatiable appetite for mosquitoes, black flies and other flying insects make them appealing to homeowners looking to control pest populations in their yard.

“Dragonflies get used to people, and if you’re outside, they’ll hover right in front of your face and pick [mosquitoes and black flies] off,” Jim Dill, pest management specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said. “It’s a good thing to have in your yard.”

Be warned, though: attracting dragonflies will not solve your mosquito ills.

“It’s understandable to seek out dragonflies as natural, chemical-free mosquito control, but insects are so diverse and so well-adapted to their own complex lives that I think we may be exercising a bit of hubris to recruit them to make our own lives more comfortable,” Pfeiffer said. “They’re not really here to serve us.”

For example, Pfeiffer said to consider the daily life of a dragonfly.

“Mosquitoes are most active [during the] early morning and dusk, through sunset,” Pfeiffer said. “Dragonflies fly around in the sunshine in the middle of the day when mosquitoes are not as active. You’re going to be a better means of mosquito control than the dragonflies will be.”

Mainers should also resist the urge to import dragonfly nymphs from biological supply companies to manage mosquitoes, which deMaynadier said has been a common practice for some towns and land trusts in the southern part of the state, as well as for private landowners, for the last 40 years. These practices can bring invasive species into Maine, especially considering that the biological supply companies are all based out-of-state and provide species of Odonata that are not native to Maine.

“We don’t know what other consequences when you introduce high quantities of a top predator into the state,” deMaynadier said. “That’s my greatest concern.”

Plus, importing dragonflies doesn’t work to control mosquitoes, according to a study deMaynadier co-authored in 2020 using baby pools filled with dragonfly nymphs in a controlled forest setting.

“We found no significant effect of dragonfly nymphal predation on mosquito larvae,” deMaynadier said. “Other natural predators were dipping into those pools just as much as the dragonflies.”

How to attract dragonflies to your yard

The first step to attracting dragonflies to your land is to make your yard more hospitable to insects in general by planting a diversity of flowers in your garden that will attract the bugs that dragonflies like to eat.

“The best thing I could say is to have a good variety of flowers,” Dill said. “If you go out, you will see dragonflies sitting on goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace or petunias.”

There are no flowers themselves that are particularly attractive to dragonflies because they are more interested in their prey.

“It’s just having lots of different things there that will attract other insects that will be flying so the dragonflies can go after them,” Charlene Donahue, retired entomologist for the Maine Forest Service, said.

Also, Donahue said to stop using pesticides — even those used to keep mosquitoes at bay — if you want to create an attractive space for dragonflies.

“One of the biggest things you can do is reduce the amount of pesticides that you use so that they’re not exposed to them, just like everything else,” Donahue said. “Our whole ecosystem, everything is connected. If you’re killing mosquitoes, you’re killing all the other insects, too.”

If you are a true dragonfly aficionado, you can consider adding a water feature to your yard as well. It should be large enough for dragonflies to breed — at least a couple dozen square feet, and a few feet deep — and you should not add fish to the feature if your goal is to see dragonflies, as they will eat the nymphs. Know, too, that standing water may also attract mosquitoes.

“You need water to have dragonflies, and water is where mosquitoes breed,” Pfeiffer said. “If you create a water feature to bring dragonflies to your property, you will also be attracting mosquitos [and] creating mosquito habitat.”

DeMaynadier said that the best water features for dragonflies are dechlorinated, naturalized ones with a vegetation buffer between the pond and the rest of your yard. Also, deMaynadier said that water movement, like a waterfall in the backyard garden pool, seems to be less attractive to mosquitoes and more attractive to dragonflies.

“[Dragonflies] do better the more you can recreate a natural setting,” deMaynadier said. “Mosquitoes will tolerate the most homogenous, man-made water [features]. Oversimplified, eyecandy-type wetlands risk creating a mosquito haven that isn’t suitable for [dragonflies].”

A better method to attract dragonflies, deMaynadier said, would be to conserve and enhance the natural water features that you have by you.

“That involves a compromise,” deMaynadier said. “Whether they’re flowing streams or rivers or standing ponds, [wetlands] benefit from a buffer of natural vegetation. The bigger the buffer, the better, but certainly not a mowed strip or just leaving down to the marsh. You want to let natural succession take place, in its messy and disorderly way.”

If the idea of bringing more mosquitoes to your yard is too much, Pfeiffer said you can still observe dragonflies in the wild anywhere there are healthy aquatic ecosystems: lakes, ponds, wetlands, bogs, rivers, streams and brooks.

“There are suites of dragonfly species that you will only find in running water in rivers,” Pfeiffer said. “In a wonderful, wild state like Maine, wherever you find wild water, you will find dragonflies and damselflies.”

How to attract dragonflies

There is a plethora of different insects that can permeate your garden space. Some of them are beneficial and others simply provide a nuisance.

While it may seem obvious to want to get rid of any type of insect in our gardens, it actually makes sense to keep a few around.

One of those types is dragonflies. Attracting certain types of bugs to your yard can be beneficial for any vegetation that you want to grow and can even work to keep other types of pests away from your yard for good.

Why Attract Dragonflies?

We all hate mosquitoes. I think that we can safely assume that there is no one out there that actually likes having them around. And during the summer, they can swarm and buzz around, creating a major annoyance and even carrying disease.

The reason why you would want to attract dragonflies to take care of the mosquito problem that can happen in the summer. Even better, dragonflies eat things such as gnats, flies, termites, and ants, all of which can be an annoyance at best and damaging to your property at worst.

They may also eat helpful insects in your yard, such as bees and butterflies, but the tradeoff for their ability to rid you of those nuisances is a worthwhile one.

If you live near wooded areas in particular, it is a good idea to keep the dragonflies around so that they can mitigate the presence of other bugs.

Even better, there are some type of dragonflies that will eat a ton of mosquito larvae that manifests underwater.

So, if you live near a pond or a lake, you can help to combat the issue of flies and mosquitoes and dragonflies can make for a worthwhile ally.

What Happens If You Don’t Have a Pond or Lake?

Water is the most likely way to attract dragonflies to your yard. But having a pond, stream, creek, or lake is not necessarily part of the landscape and undertaking the costs to have one installed isn’t worth it to simply bring dragonflies in.

So, what are you to do when you need these insect predators around to thin out the nasty little buggers that can permeate the area?

There are quite a few things you can try that should help to bring more dragonflies to your yard.

1 – Bring in a Water Fixture

Dragonflies, as well as damselflies, are naturally aquatic insects. That means that the majority of their lives are spent either around or in the water itself.

They even lay their eggs in the water and then watch while perched up high on vegetation that surrounds the area.

Some species of dragonfly prefer flowing water; the type of dragonfly that you are looking to attract to your home will dictate what kind of water feature that you need to acquire.

If you do go with a water feature, make sure that you are getting one that is at least two feet deep. If it isn’t, the dragonflies may not think that it is deep enough for them to make it their home.

Another thing to consider about the depth: mosquito larvae do their best in shallow water. So if you want to keep mosquitoes away and bring in more dragonflies, make sure that you have a deeper water fixture.

2 – Put Pollinator Plants in Your Design

While a reliable source of water is the best way to provide a food source — gnats and mosquitoes — for the mosquitoes to eat, they also like to munch on a number of different insects. Dragonflies will happily eat butterflies, moths, and even bees when they get to be large enough.

Aquatic plants are a good idea but you should also consider adding some pollinator plants in your landscaping design. This will attract smaller, less annoying insects for your dragonflies and damselflies to snack on. That, in turn, makes them readily available to tackle a persistent mosquito problem.

Some of the best pollinator plants that you can add to your landscape include buttercups, water lilies, and irises.

3 – Plant Your Vegetation Near Water

Without a source of water, you aren’t going to attract dragonflies and damselflies to your property. If you have one naturally, you’re set. If not, you’ll need to invest in the aforementioned water fixture in order to attract them.

And having a water source is great but you should also have the proper vegetation nearby to allow for the best chance of survival. Having vegetation that is submerged underwater is what gives the dragonfly eggs and nymphs the proper protection to survive and grow.

Not only that, but having emergent vegetation and partially submerged plants is what gives those nymphs that are now turning into adults the path that they need to get out from under the water.

Additionally, having floating plants gives the adults a place to perch while they rest or lay their eggs. You can go with marginal vegetation — that is, plants that lie around the edge of the water — as well as nearby shrubs and trees that will give the adult dragonflies the place that they need to roost, perch, and ultimately seek shelter.

4 – Plant Plants That Dragonflies Are Attracted to

When you think of “plants for dragonflies,” you’re not talking about plants to attract the dragonflies. What you’re really talking about is attracting the food sources that the dragonflies enjoy. This is what will bring them to the area. (And water. A reasonable source of water).

Since dragonflies like to perch on surrounding plants and look at their surroundings, any taller plant that they can see everything from is something that will keep them around. They can even perch themselves on top of taller ornamentals.

Ideally, you will want any type of plant that will bring small insects into your garden. Swamp milkweed, Joe Pye weed, and Black-eyed Susans are great for attracting the small, out-of-the-way insects that won’t bother you but will attract the dragonflies to feast on them.

Make sure that you plant anything native that will attract pollinators. This means planting varieties that will spread within your garden.

If you don’t want to have to deal with that, you will need to find different varieties of plants that won’t grow as proficiently. Yes, dragonflies will eat some of those pollinators but they will eat far more of the things that you don’t want.

Whatever the water source is for you, make sure that it is well stocked with plants. Water lilies in particular are great at providing shade for the water space, which will in turn help to keep algae from becoming prevalent.

Not only that, but they will give the dragonfly nymphs a place to successfully hide from any potential predators.

Having vertical plants around your water source is a good idea too. When dragonflies are ready for their adult life, they have to climb out of the water, dry off, and open their wings.

Those vertical plants will give them the space that they need to do so without the threat of predators and also allow them to naturally survey the area. It is the perfect setup for dragonflies.