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Dragonfly and Damselfly Information and Photos

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Dragonfly on a Leaf
These beautiful and fascinating insects do not sting and eat lots of mosquitoes. You may see them often in healthy gardens and yards, as well as in the most unexpected places. Dragonflies have larger back wings and hold them perpendicular when resting, while damselfly wings are the same size and can hinge upward.
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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 858 Posts
June 7, 2006

Blue DragonflyDragonflies arrived in the garden more than 300 million years ago-a mere 70 million years before the earliest known dinosaur. With expert hunting skills (they are insect eating machines) and the ability to fly at speeds over 30 mph, it's not surprising that their species have been able to achieve such longevity. Dragonflies live, breed, and eat around water.

In recent years, human development and the resulting loss of wetlands have put 15-20% of the world's dragonfly species in danger of becoming extinct. By inviting dragonflies into your garden you can help preserve this important insect predator. They'll show you their appreciation by happily reducing your mosquito population.
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Dragonflies vs. Damselflies

There are over 6000 different species of dragonflies and damselflies worldwide, 400 of which live in North America. Like bird watchers, devoted dragonfly watchers enjoy identifying and learning about the species they're watching. Dragonflies belong to an order of insects known as Odonata, which is Greek for "tooth." There are two sub-categories (or sub-orders) of dragonfly, the Anisoptera, which are the dragonflies and the Zygoptera, the damselflies. Certain characteristics make it easy to distinguish one from another. When perched, dragonflies hold their wings straight out to the side (horizontally), while damselflies hold their wings straight back (vertically). Dragonflies have nearly round heads, while damselfly heads are slightly elongated. Lastly, most dragonflies appear large and robust. Damselflies appear smaller and more delicate.

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Darters and Hawkers

Dragonflies are carnivorous and feed on larvae or other flying insects. Depending on the species, the lifespan of a dragonfly can be as short as six months to as long as approximately seven years. They are generally categorized into two groups:

Observing Dragonfly Behavior

One of the best reasons to attract dragonflies to your garden is simply to enjoy hours of entertaining insect behavior. A sturdy bench and a pair of binoculars should always be close at hand. Males defend their territory much like a male red-winged blackbird would, staking claim to an elevated perch near a pond and zooming out to chase away potential challengers. Most people are familiar with dragonfly and damselfly mating rituals, two dragonflies forming a circle or "wheel" in mid-air or in the case of damselflies, flying in tandem-one directly behind another.

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Much like a predatory bird, dragonflies fly over water to hunt for prey, dive-bombing it and snatching it in mid-air. With 30,000 lenses and the ability to see a full 360 degrees, it's likely that dragonflies will be watching your behavior, too!

Providing Ponds for Dragonflies

A diverse landscape of trees, shrubs, and flowers will attract the insects to your garden that dragonflies prefer to feed on, but garden ponds will provide them with a home. Dragonflies reproduce in ponds, laying their eggs in, near, or under the pond water. They also like to hunt on or near the water. This works out well for gardeners, because they eat unwanted insects, helping to preserve the environment of a pond or garden.

If you don't already have one, creating a large pond to attract dragonflies isn't necessary. A kiddy pool or half barrel is all you need. Ideally, you pond should contain underwater plants and rocks and be a minimum of 2 ft deep. This is so dragonfly nymphs can hide from frogs, birds, predatory fish, or passing raccoons.

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Plant reeds, grasses, or shrubs around the pond's perimeter to provide adult dragonflies with perches for hunting and "pond watching" and allow nymphs to crawl up out of the pond. Some species will use surrounding plants as nurseries, inserting their eggs into the more soft-stemmed plants. Dragonflies like basking in the sun, and like butterflies, they are attracted to light colored rocks. A combination of moving and still water in your pond will serve to attract the widest variety of different dragonfly species.

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July 7, 2017

I was admiring the beauty of nature at Cat Island Park in Elizabethton, TN. The rain began to fall, and I waited in my car. The day was hot and muggy and humid.

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After the rain finished, I walked down the trail and started looking for any photo opportunities, and I was glad to find this beautiful dragonfly.

A dragonfly on a leaf after a rainfall.

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22 Photos

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 846 Posts
August 17, 2011

I wasn't sure these photos of this dragonfly would turn out well because of the cloudy day but decided to try and see what would happen. Glad I did because I was pleased by the wonderful results. This little guy was just hanging around on the top of the flag pole secured in one of my potted plants for about a half hour. I love the closer shot the best!

By Deeli from Richland, WA

Another Silhouetted Dragonfly on Flag Pole
 
Silhouetted Dragonfly on Flag Pole
 

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Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,298 Posts
August 14, 2019
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden - blue dragonfly on a light green and cream colored leaf
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 
Blue Dragonfly at San Diego Botanic Garden
 

Photo Description
Having a good time does not always require money. Every 1st Tuesday of the month, San Diego Botanic Garden offers free admission to San Diego County residents. (I only had to pay parking which was just $2).

You could check your local area to see if there are any free events or admissions to your local gardens or any free events happening in your area by doing an easy online search.

This is a great spot to go with your family, have a walk within 37 acres and enjoy nature + it is very kid friendly. There are lots of kid activities and a play area for kids. It is the perfect spot for kids to mingle with other kids and have a fun time too! This is also a venue where you could book for weddings, meetings, and parties, too.

While on our walk, we love looking for the dragonflies! We found one! I was able to capture a really close up picture for you all to see!

Photo Location
San Diego Botanic Garden at 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024

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June 20, 2011

I love walking in my garden with my camera. Resting on my day lily, was this beautiful dragonfly. Anyone else besides me like dragonflies? She stayed for awhile, and let me take quite a few pictures before she flew away.

Dragonfly resting on daylily

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February 9, 2011

I came home and as I was walking down the driveway, I could see this huge dragonfly near the front door. Luckily, I had my camera with me and I got few shots of it before it flew away.

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July 26, 2011

Another walk in my garden with camera in hand, looking for what will surprise me today. Look what I found perched on one of my garden stakes. He was just sitting there resting and looking around.

Red dragonfly on garden stake

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January 22, 2015

Snapped a photo of this dragonfly that I found sitting in our garden.

Garden Dragonfly

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September 27, 2010

I found this rare species of dragonfly and managed to capture using my new Canon EOS 550D

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April 6, 2012

This dragonfly has been visiting my peach tree for a couple of days now. I just love the picture!

A dragonfly hovering over a budding peach tree.

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June 21, 2011

I saw this little one setting on a flower pot. I just had to get the camera, and get a shot of him.

Dragonfly

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July 29, 2011

We watched this dragonfly land and leave 3 times in a few minutes. We figured he wanted his picture taken. My husband ran in and got the camera. The little guy waited for me to snap a pic and then flew away.

Dragonfly on Car

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