Easy methods to entice dragonflies to your container backyard

Easy methods to entice dragonflies

There’s simply one thing mystical about seeing a dragonfly dart in entrance of you, land briefly on a close-by plant, flick its iridescent wings after which zip away. They’re so quick you nearly don’t have time to focus your eyes on them earlier than they disappear. If you would like extra of that magic and also you’re questioning how one can entice dragonflies to your backyard, excellent news: with the appropriate crops and just a little water, you may!

Dragonflies have all the time appeared to me like messengers or spirit guides. I’ve had a particular connection to them for a few years. When a dragonfly visits you, it all the time appears to be simply the appropriate second, if you want encouragement or affirmation that you simply’re heading in the right direction.

Dragonfly symbolism contains knowledge, adaptability, transformation and seeing the multi-faceted magnificence in your self and others.

On the sensible aspect, they assist management small bugs and undesirable pests like mosquitos and flies. Grownup dragonflies can eat wherever from 30 as much as lots of of mosquitos per day!

So I really like the thought of constructing just a little dragonfly haven to draw them to your backyard. You don’t even want an enormous pond or different giant options, and controlling the mosquito inhabitants is a good profit.

Learn on for particulars about how one can entice dragonflies to your backyard and what dragonflies eat, in addition to dragonfly details and damselflies vs dragonflies — and how one can spot the distinction

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black and blue winged dragonfly rests on a purple flower and a red and pink dragonfly on a black background with text how to attract dragonflies to your container garden

Are dragonflies pollinators?

You is perhaps questioning if dragonflies are pollinators like bees, wasps, beetles and moths. That may be a very good motive to draw them to your backyard … however sadly no, they’re not pollinators.

And for that motive, I wish to give a heads up proper from the beginning:

Dragonflies are carnivorous predators and eat every kind of bugs, together with mosquitos (which is superior) and bees (not so superior when you want pollinators in your backyard).

So in case your container backyard contains flowering crops that require pollination, equivalent to zucchini, cucumber or pumpkins, you would possibly assume twice about attracting quite a lot of dragonflies to your space.

Just a few dragonflies right here and there received’t damage, so no must actively attempt to eradicate them. I might simply keep away from taking steps to draw them to a small space when you want pollinators in your container backyard.

Blue green and purple dragonfly perched on an orange flower

Edible crops that DON’T want insect pollination embody: 

  • Herbs
  • Self-pollinating flowering greens together with tomatoes and peppers
  • Leafy greens like arugula, lettuce and spinach
  • Legumes like beans and peas
  • Veggies that develop within the soil like carrots, onions, beets, garlic, and potatoes
  • Brassicas, which embody broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
  • Celery 

So in case your container backyard has principally herbs and veggies that don’t require pollination, go for it! Deliver on the dragonflies …

What do dragonflies eat?

Dragonflies are nice for pest management! They eat every kind of bugs generally discovered within the U.S.

Within the underwater larval stage, dragonflies are often known as nymphs. Throughout that stage, they undergo about 10-12 molting intervals, rising every time, and it takes a LOT of meals to maintain up that a lot development! 

Nymphs eat mosquito larvae (thanks!), worms, water beetles, different small aquatic bugs, and even tadpoles and minnows as they get larger.

As soon as they become adults, dragonflies take to the air and eat mosquitos, flies, gnats, ants and termites, that are all widespread yard and backyard nuisances.

One grownup can eat as a lot as HUNDREDS of mosquitos in someday … which is about what number of I appear to have in my yard at any given time between June and September. I’m in a muggy a part of Zone 6 and will use the assistance!

In addition they eat bees and moths, which we have to pollinate flowering greens like zucchini, melons, pumpkins and cucumbers. (See above for a listing of non-insect-pollinated edible crops.)

As I mentioned above, dragonflies will not be so good in your container backyard when you want these pollinators.

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Dragonflies are additionally recognized to eat butterflies and moths. These often aren’t thought-about pests they usually aren’t their fundamental prey, however simply FYI in case you’re additionally attempting to attract in butterflies.

Easy methods to entice dragonflies (with out a pond)

Water options

Dragonflies spend quite a lot of their lives in and round water. 

Actually, they depend upon water to finish their lifecycle: They lay their eggs in water, and nymphs develop within the water. 

Dragonfly nymphs can develop and molt for so long as 5 years earlier than absolutely creating wings and ascending out of the water. Many species decelerate larval development throughout chilly seasons and develop sooner throughout heat intervals, so the size of time can fluctuate by local weather in addition to species.

As soon as they attain maturity, they climb out on partially submerged crops and unfurl their wings.

So to provide dragonflies an inviting and usable habitat, it’s important to have at the very least one water function in or close to your container backyard.

yellow and gold dragonfly perched on a green stem

You’ll be able to completely obtain this with out a pond! Whereas a pond affords a really perfect setting for dragonflies, it’s not obligatory, so long as you’re in a position to embody different water options in your patio, deck or balcony backyard.

Your water function ought to be:

  • Nonetheless water. Though some species of dragonflies do want gently transferring water like lakes and streams, nonetheless water is often preferable to a effervescent fountain.
  • Contemporary water, not salt water.
  • In full solar as a lot as attainable.
  • Out of the wind, so water crops received’t get disturbed.
  • Freed from fish and frogs, that are each dragonfly predators.
  • Freed from water remedy chemical compounds, bug sprays and fertilizer.

As soon as they mature and emerge from the water, grownup dragonflies can stay wherever from just a few days as much as 8 weeks.

That’s why it’s so necessary to have water options that maintain dragonflies via the nymph stage, typically for years! 

To take pleasure in their magnificence and magical vibe in your container backyard, you must give them a spot to develop over a protracted time period.

Water crops

As dragonfly nymphs develop, water crops actually give them a ladder out of the water, as soon as they’re mature sufficient to fly.

That’s why it’s so necessary to provide dragonflies a variety of crops to help their full lifecycle.

Submerged crops

Submerged crops could have just a little little bit of foliage on the floor however are principally contained underneath the water.

Examples embody:

  • American pondweed
  • Marshweed
  • Waternymph

Right here’s a listing of sorts of submerged crops with specifics about each. 

Emergent crops

Emergent crops are rooted in soil underwater, like within the mattress of a pond or river. It’s also possible to plant a few of them in container water gardens.

Pink and white lotus flower and green lilypads in a dark pond

The bottom of the plant is submerged, and the stems and foliage are often above the floor — rising from the water. Is smart!

These crops are necessary for dragonflies as a result of mature nymphs use them to climb out of the water. In ponds, widespread examples embody cattails, bulrushes and mangrove. Whereas some emergent crops want bigger our bodies of water, some small and dwarf varieties just do tremendous in containers.

Emergent crops you should use in containers:

  • Corkscrew rush — twisty skinny foliage that doesn’t take up quite a lot of area and grows as much as 18 inches tall
  • Dwarf cannas — develop lower than 3 toes tall, beautiful multi-colored flowers
  • Dwarf cattail — often present in ponds however you may develop them in containers, dwarf varieties attain as excessive as 30 inches
  • Dwarf lotus — much like water lilies, however the flowers and foliage stand above the water on stalks
  • Elephant ear — these big crops you already know from flowerbeds can even thrive in water gardens
  • Horsetail reed — a hanging vertical plant, wants a whisky barrel-size container or bigger
  • Japanese rush — grows as much as 12 inches tall
  • Pickerel rush — tall, vertical crops with vibrant blue flowers

Floating crops

  • Dwarf water lily — flower and foliage float on the floor of the water
  • Fairy moss — small, free-floating plant
  • Mosaic plant — small, diamond-shaped leaves kind clusters on the floor, with flowers in fall
  • Water lettuce — floating foliage with roots extending into water beneath – invasive species that may work in containers however ought to be averted for bigger our bodies of water.
  • Water snowflakes — associated to water lilies however with smaller flowers
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Vertical crops

As soon as dragonflies are grown and airborne, they use vertical crops to relaxation and eat.

Voracious hunters, dragonflies catch prey mid-air after which land to have their lunch. 

Vertical crops give them a perch for picnics and to take a breather earlier than going again out for extra … voracious searching!

Most of the emergent water crops above are vertical, with stems and foliage rising out of the water. However even taller crops will present a dynamic panorama for dragonflies to land and perch at varied heights.

Together with the aquatic vertical emergent crops, you too can plant NON-aquatic vertical crops close by in your container backyard or yard, to make the setting much more engaging to them.

Examples of non-aquatic, vertical, taller crops embody: 

  • Liatris
  • Hollyhocks 
  • Salvia 
  • Alliums
  • Lobelia

The dragonflies in my yard additionally like my lilac bush, irises and zinnias.

dragonfly with black and clear wings rests on a branch with a green background

Easy methods to plant in a container water backyard

If you wish to entice dragonflies to your yard with out a pond, a container water backyard will do the trick.

Basically, container water gardens embody a big container stuffed with water, with a number of smaller containers submerged inside. It’s also possible to add floating crops that don’t want planters.

You’re most likely questioning how one can plant crops in water like this … wouldn’t the soil simply float to the highest? How do you management algae development? How do you fertilize container water crops after they’re submerged??

These had been a few of my first questions too. Some recommendation I’ve gathered:

  • Use topsoil as a substitute of potting soil. Potting soil has an excessive amount of natural matter that may float proper up. Topsoil is heavier, with a better clay content material, which helps it keep put.
  • Add a layer of pea gravel after planting every container, 
  • Use aquatic baskets for crops that must be absolutely or partially submerged with room for his or her roots to wander and extra nutrient alternate than you’ll get with a clay pot. Listed below are some good choices:
  • Use tremendous mesh or cloth containers like these aquatic lily plant pots, to maintain soil contained. These have a drawstring to assist form them the way you wish to.
  • To regulate planter heights inside the bigger container, use bricks or smaller clay pots as bolsters.
  • Don’t simply sprinkle common outdated plant meals within the container! It’s necessary to make use of aquatic plant fertilizer like this extremely rated Flourish Freshwater Plant Complement. It has a particular mix of phytohormones, vitamins and minerals that water crops want. 
  • To manage algae development, make certain to incorporate some floating crops that maintain the water shaded, equivalent to water lilies. These assist scale back water temperature and inhibit photosynthesis in algae.

Keep in mind, dragonfly nymphs want months to a number of years to develop. So when you’re constructing a container water backyard to draw them, be sure you’re doing it appropriately so the water backyard will final for years to return!

This text on how one can construct a container water backyard provides step-by-step recommendation and a few visuals. 

I don’t have my very own but, however I’m amassing concepts and so excited to plant one subsequent spring. I’ll come again and replace this submit with some pics after I do!

Flat rocks

Very like turtles, snakes, cats and other people, dragonflies respect a pleasant heat, sunny spot to stretch out. 

Flat rocks are excellent for this. Including just a few flat rocks to your area is one of the best ways to provide them a heat and welcoming place to perch, relaxation and absorb some rays.

You don’t want an enormous rock backyard for this. Just a few flat rocks from the backyard retailer would work, or in case your patio has paving stones, you’re already good to go.

flat gray and beige rocks in a pile with smallest to largest stacked 8 high in front of blue body of water

Flowers that entice dragonflies

Together with aquatic crops, close by in-ground crops and flowers can even assist entice them.

Some dragonfly favorites embody:

  • Black-eyed susan
  • Borage
  • Coneflower
  • Milkweed
  • Yarrow
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Dragonfly predators

If you wish to entice dragonflies, it’s additionally necessary to know what repels them.

Fish and frogs each love a dragonfly snack. They feed on dragonfly nymphs, so proximity to both one will restrict your dragonfly inhabitants.

Whereas most container gardeners most likely don’t have close by ponds giant sufficient for fish or frogs, a few of you might need small water gardens with fountains or different water options. 

If that’s you, and also you do have fish … you most likely received’t have as a lot luck with dragonflies.

You may also have a tough time attracting them when you stay close to a creek or different water supply stuffed with frogs, like I do.

When you don’t have the most effective situations for dragonflies, some patio decor would possibly give just a little little bit of that magic. I really like this metallic dragonfly wall ornament, these beautiful tube and bell windchimes, or these sparkly outside dragonfly photo voltaic string lights. 

blue and purple damselfly rests on a green stem with a yellow background
Damselflies are sometimes mistaken for dragonflies. However there’s one simple technique to inform the distinction: Damselflies fold their wings again alongside their our bodies after they aren’t flying. Dragonfly wings keep out perpendicular to their physique, like a biplane.

Damselfly vs dragonfly

Damselflies are in the identical order as dragonflies (Ordonata). They’re additionally carnivorous predators and have the identical environmental wants equivalent to clear water, water crops and rocks. 

When you entice one, you’ll most likely entice the opposite!

Whereas they’ve similarities and are sometimes mistaken for one another, there are methods to inform the distinction between dragonflies and damselflies:


  • Dragonflies have two units of wings, with longer and wider hindwings. Their wings keep perpendicular to their our bodies, stretched out to the perimeters like a biplane. 
  • On damselflies, each units of wings are the identical measurement, they usually hinge and fold again alongside their our bodies after they land.


  • Dragonflies have sturdier our bodies and a powerful flight sample. Some are even able to migrating throughout oceans!
  • Damselflies are lighter and have a shorter, with a extra fluttery flight sample.


  • Dragonflies have giant eyes that take up most of their head. Actually, they will see in every single place round them — besides instantly behind.
  • Damselflies have smaller eyes, with an area between them within the entrance of the top.
closeup of gold dragonfly face with large eyes and mouth
Dragonflies are voracious hunters, however this one seems fairly completely satisfied about it! There’s a sort of smart contentedness on this face … I wager she or he can inform some tales from the great outdated days 2 weeks in the past …

Dragonfly symbolism

As a result of they’ve developed over lots of of hundreds of thousands of years, via every kind of situations, dragonflies are thought-about a logo of knowledge, transformation and resilience in lots of cultures.

The best way they develop and develop in water, then emerge and stay airborne as flying creatures, has made them a logo of adaptability and development. 

Their potential to rapidly dart, pivot and alter course mid-flight additionally symbolizes self-realization and taking management in unknown conditions.

The iridescent gorgeousness of dragonfly wings brings to thoughts multi-layered magnificence and having the ability to see — and love — a number of aspects of your self.

And the short-lived maturity of a dragonfly out of water reminds us to stay within the second.

When you’re on the lookout for just a little magic or a spirit information that can assist you see the way in which, dragonflies simply would possibly assist.

Enjoyable details about dragonflies

  • Dragonflies had been one of many first winged bugs, evolving an estimated 325 million years in the past.
  • Right this moment they’ve a median wingspan of two to five inches, however 300 million years in the past their wingspan was nearly 3 toes lengthy.
  • A lot of the 3000 dragonfly species are tropical, and the lack of wetlands all over the world endangers dragonfly populations.
  • Dragonflies can fly as properly backward as they will ahead.
  • Very like helicopters, dragonflies can fly in all instructions in addition to hover and pivot mid-air.
  • Dragonflies are very correct hunters, catching 90% of their focused prey. As compared, lions solely catch about 25% of theirs.

When you love dragonflies and wish to entice extra of them round your patio or deck — with out a pond — implementing some water options and the appropriate crops and rocks will help you out.

Extra concepts for container backyard inspiration:

blue and pink dragonflies in front of dark backgrounds with text how to attract dragonflies to your container garden

Now that you’ve got some good concepts for how one can entice dragonflies to your container backyard, together with what they eat and what habitat is greatest, are you going to provide it a strive? Tell us the way it goes within the feedback!