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.