|Thursday Tips & Techniques: Dragonflies in the Garden|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 17 November 2011|
Dragonfly décor is a common sight in the garden, less common are dragonflies themselves, but here are a few tips on enticing dragonflies to your garden to prey on pesky insects like mosquitoes, gnats, and black flies. Dragonflies and their close relatives the damselflies are both members of the ancient insect order Odonata whose ancestors co-existed with the dinosaurs and had wingspans up to 30 inches across.
As with butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, and gardens that attract bees, it’s the “plant it and they will come” attitude that is key in attracting beneficial insects like dragonflies and damselflies to the garden. Like butterflies and hummingbirds, dragonflies thrive in habitats that provide food, shelter, clean water, and most importantly plenty of sunshine. Plants like blue flag iris, narrow-leaved cattails, and arrowhead are dragonfly favorites.
The first part of a dragonfly’s life is spent on the water, which is why you often see them hovering on lily pads and around ponds and other water bodies. As adults, dragonflies move onto more terrestrial habitats like your garden. The lifespan of adult dragonflies is quite short and they die when the weather gets cold. Like butterflies, dragonflies like to be around water even if it’s a shallow pan that collects rainwater.
By the way, the difference between dragonflies and damsel flies is that dragonflies have wings that extend straight out to the sides whereas the wings of damselflies are folded behind the insect. Damselflies are also a bit smaller in size.
A Dazzle of Dragonflies
Insects and Gardens: In Pursuit of a Garden Ecology
Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs