Attracting Dragonflies: What You Should Know About Having These Beautiful, Beneficial Insects In Your Yard

One reason why you should know how to attract dragonflies is that they’re beautiful. Dragonflies have great aerial skills and are easy to see on your property, so your yard will look alive with these flying creatures.

Aside from their visual attractiveness, dragonflies provide various benefits for your plants. It’s luckily fairly easy to attract dragonflies with various natural methods that will be outlined below.

Keep scrolling to find all the best tips for attracting dragonflies to visit your yard or garden.

Benefits Of Attracting Dragonflies

benefits of attracting dragonflies

Before we learn how to attract dragonflies, let’s look at the advantages of having them in your yard.

Dragonflies are naturally designed to serve as pest control. It is commonly known that dragonflies feed on mosquitoes and flies, making up a large portion of their diet.

One of the many reasons to have dragonflies in your yard is that they reduce the mosquito population. Dragonfly larvae feed on large quantities of mosquito eggs and inhibit their spread. In addition, dragonflies are easy to attract with natural methods.

Another Interesting Facts About Dragonflies

another interesting facts about dragonflies

Apart from looking beautiful, dragonflies are specifically beneficial to your garden. Check out these interesting facts about the life of this animal.

They’re Strong Flyers

One of the most distinctive features of dragonflies is their incredible flying ability. Dragonflies can soar through the air at speeds around 35 miles an hour, much faster than many other insects.

The Stage From Egg To Adult Varies

The dragonfly life cycle is split into three stages: from egg to larval phase to adulthood. Although the time frame varies depending on water temperature, some species may take up to five years before they reach adulthood, while others only require a two-year wait.

They Have A Lot Of Enemies

Even though the dragonfly will catch mosquitoes and other insects, it has natural enemies. Adult dragonflies can be eaten by other larger dragonflies, spiders, birds, and frogs. In its larval stage, its enemies include frogs, toads, and fish.

They Have Impressive Eyesight

Compared to a human eye, the dragonfly’s eyes have about 30,000 lenses in each eyeball. This means that while we’re limited to seeing objects or threats from just one angle, the dragonfly can easily see all around them.

Prehistoric Dragonflies Were Bigger

One reason many find dragonflies so attractive is their sizable wingspans. As it turns out, prehistoric dragonflies may have had even larger measurements than modern ones due to a fossil that was found with a wingspan of more than 3 feet.

How To Attract Dragonflies

how to attract dragonflies

One of the first things to do before planning out your yard is to make sure you have enough space for dragonflies. Dragonflies need a considerable amount of room on your lawn or in your garden for them to be able to visit it and call it home.

Focus On Water

To prepare for dragonflies, you need to make sure there is water available. This helps provide shelter and food for the larva during their day-to-day life cycle and helps attract them in cases of mosquito infestation.

To attract dragonflies to your yard, you need a shallow pond measuring no more than 20 feet in diameter and 2 feet in depth. It should have sloping sides that gradually rise to the surface on the edges.

This type of pond will offer the dragonflies the full larval development they need before leaving, but you have to make sure not to stock any fish. Otherwise, they’ll eat them.

If you do not have the space for a pond or other type of water habitat, then try adding a rain garden or small bog to your property. The larger the water area in this part of your yard, the higher probability you will attract dragonflies.

If you are looking to attract other birds or animals in addition to dragonflies, then a low-level bird bath may be the solution for you. With the addition of a solar-powered fountain pump, water will quickly flow through your water source and should entice all kinds of animals on its way.

Cultivate Aquatic Plants That Attract Dragonflies

cultivate aquatic plants that attract dragonflies

Dragonflies prefer wetter grass, so those with wet soil may want to consider a pond garden. Dragonflies spend at least two months underwater and return to the same area (typically a pond) for hunting and reproduction.

And since young dragonflies need to hide, it would be beneficial to place rocks near the pond. Another idea is placing sticks near the pond, which gives them a place to perch near the water.

Standing water does attract mosquitoes, but the dragonflies will dominate any mosquito population. Some aquatic plants that are good at attracting dragonflies are…

Wild Celery

Another aquatic habitat for dragonflies is wild celery, which grows on the water’s surface and provides a surface on which dragonflies can lay their eggs.

Water Horsetail

Water horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) is another plant often found in swampy marshes and other water-rich areas that attracts dragonflies and provides a place for eggs and young dragonflies to grow.

Cattail

Bulrush thrives in wet areas, not well-suited to the dryness of my property. Bulrushes also offer eggs and a habitat for young dragonflies.

Water Lily

dragonflies on water lily

This plant is another example of the pond water-loving plants that provide dragonflies with suitable locations for laying eggs and hiding and providing water bodies. Rocks used to weigh down the lilies also provide sufficient places to hide.

The leaves and blossoms on the pond surface. And though I don’t have my own pond and water lilies, remembering my mother’s garden with her pond full of lovely flowers and making sure she always had a few dragonflies to dance around at the surface.

Swamp Milkweed

Swamp milkweed is a close relative to common milkweed, which also goes by the more exotic names of “rose milkweed” and “swamp milkweed.” You can find this herbaceous perennial flowering in moist or sunny areas — just like other members of its family.

One of the reasons for having a dragonfly visit your garden is that it is a pollinator, which means its primary task is to help plants reproduce- including milkweed. The other bonus for milkweed is that it has an irritating component that helps keep pests away like mosquitoes.

Dragonflies eagerly devour mosquitoes while repelling them as well. I’ve noticed with this plant that it only works in wet areas that are not present on my property.

Arrowhead

Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) is yet another aquatic perennial. It grows above the water level and is not suitable for my property, unfortunately.

However, if you have the moist land it loves, this plant does well to attract dragonflies. Adults often lay eggs on the plants under the right conditions.

Grow This Common Plants That Attract Dragonflies

grow this common plants that attract dragonflies

So, what kinds of plants will attract dragonflies to your backyard? They fly around pollinating garden plants. Here are some key plants that will do the trick.

Black-Eyed Susan

I love these flowers. We have them in lots of places around the property, both indoors and outdoors. They grow well in all kinds of soil but like full sun best, which is available no matter where you plant them on our property.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a flower that attracts pollinators with its beauty and dragonflies. As I added more patches of my reddish flowers to areas where I had already grown them, I noticed that the mosquito population decreased. Still, it’s not gone, so we need to attract even more dragonflies to get rid of the mosquitoes altogether.

Borage

A drought-tolerant plant, Borage (Borago officinalis), can be a great addition to your garden as it is rich in nutrition and many other properties. For example, its cucumber flavor makes it an enjoyable dish for salads or spreads and dips.

Coneflowers

Coneflowers (Echinacea) are a favorite in my garden, largely because of the showy flowers. These sun-loving perennials also survive drought reasonably well, and they are low maintenance. Butterflies love these plants as much as I do!

Joe-Pye Weed

Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) is a flowering plant with pink-purple flowers that grow from midsummer to fall. As well as being an attractive addition to the garden, it has a soft scent and mild vanilla fragrance. It needs full or partial sunlight and does well in moist wooded areas and meadows.

This perennial is easy to grow, but it can grow up 12 feet high and needs space. The flowers act as a magnet for dragonflies, other flying insects, and more. Some even use dried roots and flowers for medicinal purposes.

Yarrow

dragonflies on yarrow

Yellow yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a tall plant that does not spread and takes up very little space, and it’s the most common variety of yarrow. The white variant attracts dragonflies, but you might see them hovering near yellow yarrow too.

Yarrow is a useful nectar source for pollinators, and I enjoy watching butterflies feast on the fragrant flowers. It’s a perennial that is often found in many home gardens, and it has various benefits. Yarrow can survive long periods without water or sunlight but prefers direct sunlight as most plants do.

Meadow Sage

This one is my personal favorite. Meadow sage has purple flowers (although I am aware that it produces pink, blue, or white blooms) that are absolutely stunning.

Like the Joe-Pye weed, it is partial sun tolerant and disease and pest-resistant. However, the bonus — for my area at least — is that it can withstand drought, attracting butterflies as well as mosquito-eating dragonflies like myself.

Open Area

You want to create a space around your pond or body of water with visibility and few tall trees cutting into the landscape. For the most part, you should only plant shrubs in this area as it will attract dragonflies. Plus, all of these plants offer more sunlight which keeps the dragonflies warm and active.

Flat Rocks

This tip may be free: to attract these amazing creatures, it may take some moderate-sized flat stones that gather the heat of the sun. You can leave this task during spring, summer, and early fall as it provides an ideal place for dragonflies to come and visit.

They use rocks as a heat source to warm up. Adding flat rocks to the edges of your pond and nearby areas will help encourage this natural resource to visit.

Placing the large rocks in the pond can be tempting, but it is better to place them on a larger flat surface. The lower water temperature may reduce heat and light, as well as all sorts of experiments with different rock colors, are recommended. The darker-colored rocks will encourage more heating during the day.

Get Rid of Bug Zappers

Attracting bugs in your garden may seem like a good idea, but it is too risky if you plan to attract dragonflies. Dragonflies are an important aspect of the ecosystem, and they have their own process for decreasing the need for bug zappers by eating unwanted insects.

Types Of Dragonflies

For the most part, dragonflies can be lumped into three main categories. Knowing these will help you identify them and know if they’re beneficial to have in your garden.

River Cruiser Dragonfly

river cruiser dragonfly

River cruisers deriving their name from their distinctive trait of frequenting long distances along the banks and roads beside rivers.

Although they are sometimes called cruisers, the family of these agile creatures is Macromiidae.

These are a type of dragonflies with long, slender bodies that have distinct yellow stripes. What makes these species stand out is their bright green eyes. They typically only live in North America.

Spiketail Dragonfly

spiketail dragonfly

Dragonflies (also known as spiketails) are common to the Cordulegastridae family. Dragonflies are one of the less common types of dragonflies found in the United States, and usually, only eight or nine species make up these genera.

These dragonflies have long bodies. Their abdomens are typically brown or black. The color of their abdomen ranges from bright yellow to tan in color and has a pattern that is distinct in shape and size,

Among the most active dragonflies, spiketail dragonflies are usually seen flying, rarely ever perching like skimmers.

Many of these can be found near Rocky Mountain wooded areas.

Tigertail Dragonfly

tigertail dragonfly

Dragonflies are visible insects that typically belong to two large categories, the tiger tails, and the corduliidae family. Tigertailz makes up a prominent group within this classification with about 43 species of dragonfly. These long-bodied insects can be anywhere from 1-2 inches in length as adults, and they come in different colors depending on their type.

One of the oldest species of dragonflies is called tiger tails and is most common in Australia and New Guinea.

Dragonflies are naturally attracted to waters with slow-moving water. They can be found near lakes, ponds, or streams and get their name from the combination of yellow and black stripes.

Clubtail Dragonfly

clubtail dragonfly

Clubtails are members of the Gomphidae family, and they are typically found near water bodies in North America. They can be a variety of colors, but there are about 100 different species in total.

While all dragonflies have their own unique characteristics, one thing they all seem to share is club-shaped tails. Sometimes they’re called blade tail dragonflies.

That said, this club-like appendage on the male abdomen is more pronounced than with females and may be absent in some species.

There are about 14 genera of dragonflies in the clubtail family.

Petaltail Dragonfly

petaltail dragonfly

Petaltail dragonflies are known for their long, straight tail. They belong to the Petaluridae family, which is the oldest dragonfly in existence and has existed for 150 million years.

There are 11 recorded species of this family worldwide, the largest of which is found in Australia.

One curious thing about Petaltails is that they are found around fens when growing up, rather than water habitats like most other dragonflies. Maybe because of this, these dragonflies take longer to mature into adults.

Skimmer Dragonfly

skimmer dragonfly

Skimmers are found in North America and part of the Libellulidae family. They generally make up a large chunk of the population among dragonflies, with some 105 species so far identified by scientists.

Skimmers, also known as perchers, are often frustrating to categorize. There are at least 26 different genera of skimmers under the larger subgroup of skimmers, and they love crops exposed to sunlight.

Emerald Dragonfly

emerald dragonfly

Emerald dragons are usually found in the Corduliidae family. They get their common name from their striking emerald green eyes and can be found in most regions of the United States.

There are various types of emerald dragonflies, some that may be found in specific parts of the country.

The practice of taxonomy among dragonflies is still an ongoing process, but there are at least 50 native Corduliidae species in six different genera.

The emerald dragonfly, found throughout North America, is the only species that is native to our continent. These dragonflies are usually found in lakes or near forested areas and can be seen from early spring until the late summer, depending on where in North America you live.

Spreadwing Damselfly

spreadwing damselfly

Dragonflies and damselflies are two different species in the same scientific order as flying insects. While they both reside in this category, one distinction is that damselflies usually keep their wings closed when at rest, whereas spreading dragonflies do not have this habit.

North America is home to 20 species of spreadwing damselflies. These damselflies prefer still or slow-moving water sources as their habitat.

They usually perch on crops and vegetation to search for food, making themselves visible in the sunlight.

Hawker Dragonfly

hawker dragonfly

Hawker is a common name for dragonflies belonging to the family Aeshnidae. These types of dragonflies are the fastest flying among any in that particular family.

These dragonflies are popular in North America and makeup one of the largest types in the world.

There are various things to know about dragonflies, including their mate during flight and lay eggs near water (preferably in it).

Additionally, female hawkers can feign death to avoid the advances of a male they don’t find suitable for mating.

Saddlebag Dragonfly

saddlebag dragonfly

A species of dragonflies called “Saddlebags” live mostly in the central or southwestern parts of Mexico, the northern region of Canada, and the southern United States.

These black saddlebags are also known as the Libellulidae family. They like to be around bodies of water that don’t have fish and especially prefer a lot of vegetation, which they feed on to make their wings stronger.

These particular dragonfly species migrate, visiting the North in the spring and moving towards the Atlantic coast in fall.

An interesting note to make about saddlebags is that they are also referred to as mating gliders because they travel through the air and lay eggs without moving limbs. They serve a beneficial function in controlling mosquito populations when not performing their natural role of pollination.

Darner Dragonfly

darner dragonfly

Darners, like hawkers, are dragonflies belonging to the Aeshnidae family. They have a black body with distinctive blue spots and tend to be found in lakes, ponds, or streams throughout the Americas.

There are a few darners varieties, and though they have different features, they share many things in common which categorize them as the same family.

Although the males of this species have bright blue dots on their abdomen or thorax, the females typically have spots in shades of yellow or green.

Unlike most other species of dragonflies, darners lack thoracic stripes on the top or bottom part of their bodies.

Broadwing Damselfly

broadwing damselfly

Broadwing damselflies are large and brightly colored. They belong to the genus of Calopterygidae, which includes the North American species as well.

River jewel wings are a prominent species because they have uniquely wide wings. These damselflies are typically the largest in their region, and they feature bright, flashy covers that often have hints of metallic green or blue.

They also have impressive wings with large, spotted patterns that make them easy to identify. The River Jewelwing is just as big as a dragonfly—larger than the average damselfly.

Final Thoughts

Dragonflies can be a wonderful addition to your garden, and if you are lucky enough to attract them, they will bring not only beauty but also benefits. The following tips will provide information on how to create the optimum dragonfly environment.

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