We don’t often think much about dragonflies until we see them nearby, but they can be very helpful around the home. They are hunting machines, due to 80% of their brain being used for visual processing. Some studies have shown that the can see objects up to 30 feet away and movement can be detected up to 60 feet away.
The fact that they have those visual senses works in their favor because dragonflies hunt and eat a lot. 10-15% of their own body weight is consumed every day on insects, including mosquitoes, termites, deerflies, blackflies, horseflies, and midges. Having them around your yard is going to be to your benefit because it will be less buggy. You can think of them as being the exterminator of the insect world.
For those that are interested in attracting dragonflies, a body of water is the best option. Dragonfly eggs are laid in the water, and the young hatch and develop into nymphs in the area. The nymphs will continue to live underwater for months and perhaps as long as a year before they come out to fly around as adults. When they are nymphs, they also eat a considerable amount of food, including mosquito larvae and other underwater creatures.
You can create a pond to attract dragonflies or make sure that any water near your home is dragonfly friendly. It doesn’t have to be a large body of water and it doesn’t require a filter but there are some specific features to consider. It has to be protected from the wind and it needs up to 6 hours of midday sun every day.
The water should be shallow, or at the most, 2 feet in depth. If the pond is too shallow, it may get too hot and evaporate. The deep areas also allow dragonfly food to escape their clutches.
Plants should be put around the pond as well as in the pond. They can include submerged plants, floating plants, and others that add oxygen to the water and get rid of carbon dioxide. The plants also allow the dragonflies to hide and rest when they are nymphs and they are used in the incubation process.
If the plant is tall enough and sticks out of the water, the adult dragonflies can also hang out in the area to look for food or mates. Those plants also provide nymphs the opportunity to climb up and undergo the transformation into an adult. Dragonflies have to pump their wings before they become flyers and when they emerge, they have a soft body. It takes a number of days before the wings get hard enough and they have the colors that they will keep as an adult dragonfly.
What you plant around the exterior area of the pond is also an important thing to consider. Dragonflies will often be perched on an elevated area where they can look off into the distance to their favorite feeding or breeding areas. Dragonflies are also very territorial and if a competitor comes into the area, they will chase them or even battle with them. Bamboo stakes can be planted along the pond if you prefer. A few flat rocks may also be put into the area or placed near the edge of the pond, as it allows them to sit and soak up some sun.
If you are planning on creating a pond for a number of different types of dragonflies, don’t allow ducks, frogs, or fish to be introduced to the area. They tend to prey on the eggs and nymphs. You would also not want to have any poison or fertilizer near the water.
According to some experts, as much as 15% of the dragonfly species found in North America are facing extinction. Bringing those dragonflies into your yard does more than help keep it free of pests, it helps to make the planet better for everyone.
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