Having insects in the garden can be annoying, or it can help everything to grow and thrive. However one of the best insects to attract into a garden is the dragonfly. Here are the top ways to attract dragonflies, and why you should do so!
Why Attract Dragonflies to your Yard?
Dragonflies are beautiful to look at; they fly and hover around a garden, making it feel bustling and alive. These helpful insects are bright and come in many distinct colors, such as blues, black, yellow and orange.
Additionally, adult dragonflies are a natural mosquito control, and can eat hundreds of mosquitos per day! It’s not just a mosquito problem that they’ll fix though, because in addition to mosquitos they use a variety of small insects as food sources. This includes being predators of: flies, ants, beetles, midges, butterflies, moths & bees. Dragonfly nymphs will also eat tadpoles and small fish.
Finally, it’s important to note that dragonflies do not bite humans and cannot sting you. So you can feel safe in creating a dragonfly habitat.
The most effective way to attract dragonflies to your yard is by having a pond (or ponds!). The reason a pond is so effective at attracting dragonflies is because they breed within water. Dragonflies are aquatic insects who spent their lives around water.
The water needs to be at least 2 feet deep for the nymphs and dragonfly eggs to be safe from predators. The edges of the pond should have shallow water and sloping sides in order for the right plants to be able to grow.
Among the many benefits having a pond as a water source will provide, they also attract other species of wildlife such as birds.
What if I Don’t have a Pond?
If you don’t have access to a pond and can’t make one, then do not despair! There are plenty of other ways to add water into your garden and draw the dragonflies in. Getting a water feature solves the problem and there are many available at local garden centers that meet the depth requirement of 2 feet needed to attract dragonflies.
Certain species of dragonflies prefer a flowing water source, so be sure to lookup which kinds are native to your part of the country.
Many people have had success attracting and breeding dragonflies using containers. A popular idea is the use of plastic wading pools, but you can use anything that holds water such as an old barrel or small bowl. You will be able to find something suitable at most home improvement stores.
Using a smaller water source is ok. It might not be large enough for dragonflies to breed and lay their eggs in, but will still attract other insects, who will then draw dragonflies.
Remember, if you want dragonflies to breed, then the container should be at least 2 feet deep.
Should I Have Fish in my Pond?
Fish will eat any dragonfly nymphs and eggs they find. Although they may be able to coexist with dragonflies, you would need water plants to provide an area to lay eggs and hide in.
If you really want to attract dragonflies then it’s easier to avoid having fish in your pond.
Attract Dragonflies without Attracting Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and only require a tiny amount of water for their eggs and mosquito larvae. So how do we attract dragonflies without mosquitoes?
Keep water oxygenated by planting plenty of oxygenating plants. Mosquitoes are repelled from higher levels of oxygen in the water, because their natural predators need it and are more likely to eat them.
You can also install a pump or water feature to prevent standing water.
If you do manage to attract adult dragonflies to your yard, then as we mentioned above, they will help keep the mosquitoes away by hunting them.
Dragonflies like to have plants around borders of the water in order to feel safe. So when we create a habitat for them, we need to ensure that we plant enough marginal vegetation and bog plants.
They like to perch on nearby vegetation to keep an eye on their larvae and look out for predators. So ensure that you plant enough around the edge of the pond area for dragonflies to perch.
Making sure insects are attracted to the habitat we create is also important. More insects means more dragonflies! We recommend placing some pollinator plants into the garden.
Try to select native plants from your area when possible.
Plant shrubs as border plants to create an area dragonflies will thrive in and give them somewhere to perch around the pond.
When adding in water plants, you will want a mixture of submerged and floating plants.
Submerged plants for oxygenation and a place for the larvae to stay.
- Baby pondweed
- Sago pondweed
Floating plants are also great to allow the dragonfly nymphs to hide and get some shade.
- Water lilies
- Lotus flowers
- Wild celery
- Water horsetail
Plants such as these are great for attracting bees and insects to your yard. More insects attracted = more dragonflies!
- Swamp milkweed
- Meadow sage
- Black eyed Susans
- Joe Pye weed
Be conscious of pesticide usage in your yard and try to limit it as much as possible. These chemicals will kill insects, and they are food for our dragonflies. Avoid if you can.
Rocks and Sun
Flat rocks are ideal for perching. Dragonflies like to sit on warm flat rocks in the sunshine, so ensure that any rocks are not in the shade of nearby shrubs or trees.
Certain color rocks may attract more dragonflies than others, so try a mix of light and dark rocks to see what works in your area.