The annoying presence of mosquitoes in your yard is a sure-fire way to ruin a pleasant summer evening. And while repellents, sprays and burners can be useful in reducing the number of itchy bites you receive, they do little to cure the problem. Mostly, these methods encourage the buzzing nuisances to move to another part of your garden for a while, ready to return as soon as your guard is down.
Thankfully, there’s a far more effective and long-lasting solution that’s also completely natural and nearly effort-free. Dragonflies are enthusiastic natural predators of mosquitoes. They can catch and consume 100 or more per day, including both larvae and adults. What’s more, it’s easy to encourage these useful allies into your garden by growing some of their favorite plants.
Here are six plants that attract dragonflies:
1. Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye Weed produces tall stems up to 7-feet (2.1m) high, topped with large clusters of purple flowers for an impressive display in late summer. The flowers are rich in nectar, which attracts butterflies, bees and many other insects, which in turn provide an enticing food source for dragonflies.
These tall plants are best suited to larger, relatively natural-looking yards where their height can also act as a privacy border.
2. Black-Eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan is a versatile plant that thrives in a wide range of garden conditions, although they bloom for longer in a warmer climate. The plants grow to around 30-36 inches (30-91cm), and produce large, daisy-like, golden-yellow flowers which last until late in the season.
The flowers are favorites of butterflies, attracting an appetizer for the dragonflies to enjoy before the mosquito’s main dish.
3. Meadow Sage
As a hardy perennial which needs little care and attention, meadow sage is an ideal choice for time-stretched plant lovers. But the easy growth doesn’t mean an unimpressive plant. The long purple flower spikes provide intense color right through the summer and into early fall.
Meadow sage doesn’t need a lot of water, and so makes a great plant as a dragonfly attractant in drier areas.
Yarrow is another flower species that doesn’t need cossetting, adding plenty of color and interest to a perennial garden but asking for little in return. The large clusters of tiny flowers are one of the best ways of encouraging butterflies to stock up the dragonfly larder. Yarrow’s white, yellow, red and pink flowers provide a feast for human eyes too.
Arrowhead is a great choice for growing in difficult areas of your garden, as it’s happiest in damp or swampy conditions and can handle relatively low levels of sunlight. It produces small, delicate white flowers with a golden center, and will readily establish itself by self-seeding.
In the wild, this plant usually grows in semi-aquatic areas, and is a favored breeding ground for dragonflies. However, even in the less waterlogged conditions of a typical yard, arrowhead can provide a hatching site for dragonfly eggs as well as a hangout for adults.
6. Aquatic and Floating Plants
Lastly, rather than recommending a specific plant, one of the best ways of attracting dragonflies is to build a water feature into your garden. A small pond planted with water lilies, water forget-me-nots, and other aquatic and floating plants provides perfect conditions for dragonflies to live their entire life cycle. A water feature can establish these mosquito-loving hunters as full-time residents in your yard.
Provide a Place for Dragonflies to Perch
Some species of dragonflies are fond of positioning themselves on a tall perch in open areas where they can more easily view and hunt their prey. They may perch on tree or shrub branches but there are many plants that can also offer a steady place to perch.
Add plants to your landscape with rigid leaves or stalks such as horsetail, yucca or reed grass. There are many flowering plants with lean, sturdy flower stalks such as liatris, delphinium or lupine that would also give dragonflies a good vantage point. A quick and simple option is to stick a few bamboo, plastic or wooden stakes around the garden.
These suggestions are some of the best for encouraging dragonflies, but if none of them suit your own garden’s design, all’s not lost. Follow these tips on how to attract butterflies to your yard, and dragonflies are sure to follow on behind.