It always amazes me the way nature takes care of things in her own time, and her own way. If people only stopped taking control and started listening to her, we’d see the beauty of these interactions take place. Utilizing plants that attract dragonflies for mosquito control, for instance, is one such example.
I grew up in a place that danced with hundreds of dragonflies, and was always taken aback at how effective they were at controlling the mosquito populations.
Every evening in the warmer months, when bugs very evidently started to get worse, swarms of dragonflies would populate the skies and scoop up the bugs in a matter of minutes.
Utilizing dragonflies for mosquito control is natures way of telling us she’s got this. Only when we start intervening with harmful chemicals (like bug sprays and mosquito coils), will we do more harm than good.
Dragonflies are some of the best predators to keep mosquito populations low. Not only do they scavenge the skies in adulthood, but they eat large numbers of mosquito larvae in their larval form (which happens in the water).
One study found that dragonfly larvae could play a significant role in the regulation of mosquito populations. While they are most effective in their larval stage, adult dragonflies can still eat up to 100, if not many more, mosquitoes per day.
Not only do dragonflies control mosquito populations – they help control other bugs, too, like midges.
Attracting dragonflies to your garden and backyard requires planting a diverse array of plants. Planting trees and shrubs around the perimeter of the yard will provide adequate hiding spots for young dragonflies.
Black-eyed susans attract butterflies and other pollinators – a popular choice of the dragonfly (unfortunately so, but everyone has to eat!).
These bright yellow wildflowers typically live for around two years in climates that remain warm for most of the year, and will die off once winter hits in cooler climates. They adapt well to nearly every type of soil and require full sunlight and regular watering to bloom.
Blooming plants also attract pollinators (like butterflies, beetles, wasps, moths and other small flying insects that dragonflies love to prey on.
Water plants that grow near and within ponds are also highly sought out by dragonflies, but only if you’re willing to sacrifice a part of your yard with a pond (which wouldn’t be too bad, would it?
While building a backyard pond is the best way to attract dragonflies as they mate and lay their eggs in water, you can still attract dragonflies through other means.
Planting flowers that attract prey for dragonflies will bring them to your garden indirectly. Here are five plants you can grow to attract more dragonflies into your backyard.
Meadow sage is a beautiful perennial with eye-catching purple flowers that attract butterflies and other small insects. This flower loves full sun, but it can also do well in partial shade.
The best growing location receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Once established, this plant does not need a lot of water. In fact, it can handle pretty well in drought conditions, but if scarcity of water does become a thing, make sure you give it a sip at least once a day.
Incorporating a pond into your backyard is also a good idea if you want dragonflies to return to your side of the neighborhood. Dragonflies spend two months to several years underwater, and water is a place they will return to time and time again.
If you provide water, dragonflies will come to hunt, reproduce, perch, and play.
Aside from the water-dwelling plants listed below, you should also provide rocks around the pond, and around your garden in general. Rocks provide hiding place for dragonfly larvae as they grow and develop under water.
While you’re waiting for plants to grow tall enough for dragonflies to perch on, you can place sticks around your pond. This will give them somewhere to land and take a rest. You can use sticks from nearby trees, or bamboo stakes for plants and vegetables.
Floating plants like water lilies make the perfect egg-laying spot for adult dragonflies. Water lilies can be grown from tubers planted in pots beneath the water’s surface.
The plant will then send up stems with rounded leaves and star-shaped blossoms that float on the surface. Adding in rocks will help keep the plant submerged.
Live Love Fruit / Crickey Conservation Society 2023.