There are pesky insects that we avoid and then there are the ones that we willingly invite into our yards. Many insects serve a purpose and can actually improve our yards and gardens. From pollination to keeping mosquitoes away, to beauty, there are positive qualities to some insects. Dragonflies are one of those insects that people actually build a garden and backyard pond with the intention of attracting.
Because dragonflies depend on water for much of their lifecycle, building a backyard pond to attract them is a good first step. The ultimate size recommendation for a pond to attract dragonflies is 20 feet in diameter. A flexible EPDM pond liner will conform to the shape of your pond. If your pond is smaller than this it can still attract dragonflies, just try to place it where it will be protected from wind and will get afternoon sun.
The perfect dragonfly pond will vary in depth, shallow around the edges and at least a couple feet deep in the middle. Deeper water provides a safe place for dragonfly babies, or nymphs, to hide from raccoons and other predators. This blend of shallow and deeper water also accommodates a variety of water plants. While dragonflies don’t actually eat these plants, the underwater plants provide an important habitat and offer a place to rest, hunt for food and hide from predators. Plants that pop out of the top of the water are also a great place for dragonflies to perch and bask in the sun.
These varying aquatic plants are also critical for dragonflies because the nymphs crawl up them when they emerge, making the shift from water inhabitant to a flying adult. Some dragonfly species use the plants to insert their eggs into the soft stems, almost like a nursery. What you plant around the pond is almost as important as what you plant in it. Try to have some bushes and plants within a few feet of the pond for additional places to perch.
Try adding some pond rocks around the border. Dragonflies love to sunbathe, and these flat, warm rocks will entice them to stick around.
While many people enjoy adding pond fish to their backyard pond, this is not recommended if you want breeding populations of dragonflies. Fish will eat the eggs and nymphs.
Dragonfly watching can be just as entertaining as bird watching. Look out for their distinctive colors and markings and see how many species you can identify.