3 Surefire Ways to Attract Dragonflies to Your Yard for Natural Mosquito Control
Create a dragonfly habitat on your property with one of these three methods.
Dragonflies and damselflies are known for their colorful appearances—but they aren’t just pretty to look at. They’re also useful insects that help keep pests out of your garden. These insects benefit your yard by eating many types of flying bugs that would otherwise damage your plants or act as a nuisance, including mosquitoes. In fact, a mature dragonfly can eat hundreds of mosquitoes a day, so they are a natural pest control option for mosquito-infested areas. They also eat other flying pests, such as gnats, flies, and black flies.
All you need to do to benefit from these insects’ pest-fighting abilities is provide an inviting dragonfly habitat in your backyard. Here’s how to attract dragonflies and damselflies to your property.
1. Install a Water Feature
The first step in creating an attractive habitat for dragonflies is to provide a water feature. Dragonflies and damselflies are aquatic in their larval stage, so they need water to lay their eggs and thrive. Dragonfly larvae, also known as nymphs, actually spend the first two years of their lives in the water!
To attract dragonflies to your yard, provide a source of water that can act as a dragonfly nursery. Ideally, this should be a body of water at least 2 ft. deep with lots of plants and undisturbed soil where dragonfly nymphs can hide from predators. Mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs in shallower water, so the depth is important. Ponds are perfect for dragonfly gardens. Avoid adding fish to the pond, since they prey on dragonfly larvae.
However, not everyone has room to install an in-ground pond in their yard. Instead, add a container pond with aquatic plants sticking out of the water, as these can act as perches for adult dragonfly females as they keep watch over their young. Dragonflies love basking in the sun, so place it in an area that receives plenty of direct sunlight.
2. Choose the Right Plants
One of the best ways to encourage dragonflies to make your yard their home is to choose the right varieties of plants and flowers. Knowing what attracts dragonflies is a good place to start.
Dragonflies tend to be attracted by colorful blooms, as well as plants with leaves and stems that can act as perches. Some plants that attract dragonflies include black-eyed Susans, meadow sage, yarrow, and borage. If you can plant dragonfly flowers near a water feature, you’ll create an excellent ecosystem in which dragonflies can thrive.
If you have a pond, consider adding aquatic plants for extra dragonfly shelter. Some great examples include arrowhead, water horsetail, fanwort, and water lilies. All of these varieties provide a safe haven for the insects while they nest and tend to their young.
3. Create Shelter
Dragonflies are mostly active during the day, so they need somewhere to rest at night. While dragonflies prey on many smaller insects, they are also preyed upon by birds and amphibians. Adult dragonflies like tall grasses, reeds, and shrubs located near water, giving them spots to can hide from predators while remaining close to their offspring. In addition to choosing dragonfly plants that provide natural shelter, you can try crafting an insect hotel by filling a birdhouse with bark, straw, and twigs. This will give adult dragonflies a sanctuary in which to rest. Place this insect hotel near the water feature you’ve created, be it a pond or a birdbath, for the best results.
By providing the ideal shelter for dragonflies, you’ll have no problem attracting these beautiful—and beneficial—insects to your property. If your outdoor living area becomes inundated with mosquitoes in the warmer months of the year, these strategies should ensure that your local dragonfly population keeps the situation under control.