Do Dragonflies Eat Mosquitoes? The Natural Pest Control Explained

Dragonflies are fascinating creatures that have roamed our planet for over 300 million years. These agile insects are often seen darting through gardens and near bodies of water, displaying their prowess as exceptional flyers. One question people frequently ask is whether dragonflies consume mosquitoes as part of their diet.

The answer to this question is yes, dragonflies do eat mosquitoes. Both adult dragonflies and their aquatic nymphs, known as naiads, prey upon these pesky insects. Adult dragonflies use their bristly legs to catch various flying insects, such as mosquitoes and flies, during their acrobatic flights source.

Not only do dragonflies help control mosquito populations, but they also target other nuisance insects like flies, wasps, and even other dragonflies source. This makes them highly beneficial to humans as natural predators, reducing the reliance on chemical insecticides to control these bothersome pests.

Dragonflies and Mosquitoes: A Natural Connection

The Role of Dragonflies in Controlling Mosquitoes

Dragonflies play a significant role in controlling mosquito populations. Adult dragonflies are known as generalist predators, feeding on a variety of insects, including mosquitoes1. Their aquatic nymphs, called naiads, also prey on mosquito larvae in water bodies2.

Here are some features of dragonflies that make them efficient mosquito hunters:

  • Agile and fast fliers: Dragonflies can easily catch their prey mid-air
  • Bristly legs: Their legs help them scoop up insects during their flight
  • Wide range of prey: They consume various species of mosquitoes

How Dragonflies and Mosquitoes Coexist

Dragonflies and mosquitoes coexist in different stages of their life cycles. Dragonfly adults and nymphs feed on mosquitoes at different stages, helping to maintain a balance in their habitats. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water bodies, which also serve as homes for dragonfly nymphs2.

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the differences between dragonflies and mosquitoes:

Dragonflies Mosquitoes
Generalist Predators Disease Vectors (transmit diseases)
Feed on mosquitoes (adults and nymphs) Feed on blood (females)
Nymphs live in water bodies2 Lay eggs in stagnant water2

To sum up, dragonflies play an essential role in controlling mosquito populations, contributing to a more balanced ecosystem. Their predatory nature helps to keep mosquito numbers in check, making them a valuable ally in pest control.

Life Cycle of Dragonflies and Mosquitoes

Dragonfly Life Stages

Dragonflies have three main life stages: eggs, larvae (also called nymphs), and adult dragonflies. The life cycle begins when female dragonflies lay their eggs near or in bodies of water, sometimes on plants just above or below the water surface1. Dragonfly larvae then hatch from the eggs and live underwater, feeding on aquatic insects and other small organisms.

  • Egg stage: Eggs are laid in or around water.
  • Larval stage: Aquatic and predatory lifestyle.
  • Adult stage: Airborne, predatory, and colorful.

During the larval stage, which usually lasts several months to several years, dragonflies go through a series of moltings before they are ready to emerge as adults. Once emerged, adult dragonflies are active predators, feeding on a variety of flying insects, including mosquitoes3.

Mosquito Life Stages

Mosquitoes also have four main life stages, such as eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult mosquitoes. Females lay their eggs individually or in rafts on the surface of standing water. Larvae, which are aquatic and filter-feed on microorganisms, thrive in a variety of water sources ranging from ponds to stagnant water in containers.

  • Egg stage: Laid on or near water surfaces.
  • Larval stage: Aquatic, filter-feeding on microorganisms.
  • Pupal stage: Transitional period between larval and adult stages.
  • Adult stage: Blood-feeding females, nectar-feeding males.

The larval stage lasts for several days to a couple of weeks, followed by the pupal stage, which is a non-feeding and transitional stage, eventually leading to the emergence of adult mosquitoes. Adult female mosquitoes feed on blood from vertebrates to obtain nutrients for their eggs, while adult males feed on nectar and do not bite4.

Life Stage Dragonflies Mosquitoes
Eggs In/near water On/near water
Larvae Aquatic, predatory Aquatic, filter-feed
Pupae N/A Transitional stage
Adults Flying, predatory Blood/nectar feeding

Overall, dragonflies and mosquitoes both have aquatic larval stages and similar egg-laying preferences. However, dragonflies are voracious predators at all stages, while mosquitoes only have predatory behavior during their adult stage. As a result, dragonfly larvae can help control mosquito populations by feeding on mosquito larvae in their aquatic environments5.

Habitats and Characteristics

Dragonfly Habitats and Preferences

Dragonflies are commonly found in various aquatic environments, such as:

  • Wetlands: Marshes, swamps, and bogs provide ample breeding grounds.
  • Ponds: Small ponds in backyards and parks.
  • Lakes: Larger bodies of water with plenty of insects for them to prey on.
  • Streams: Moving water sources with abundant vegetation.

Dragonflies are agile fliers that prefer sunny and warm habitats with a rich presence of small insects. Their naiads, or aquatic larvae, feed on other small aquatic insects, and even on small fish.

Mosquito Habitats and Breeding Sites

Mosquitoes breed in standing water and can be found in varied environments, such as:

  • Ponds: Stagnant water sources in backyards and other urban areas are common breeding sites.
  • Wetlands: Marshes provide still water where they can lay eggs.
  • Containers: Unused flower pots, tires, buckets or any vessel containing standing water.

Comparing the two habitats, we can see similarities where both mosquitoes and dragonflies coexist. The table below highlights their key preferences:

Habitat Features Dragonflies Mosquitoes
Water Type Ponds, Wetlands, Streams, Lakes Ponds, Wetlands, Container
Food Preferences Small insects, including mosquitoes Blood (Adults) and organic material (Larvae)

These overlaps in their habitats offer dragonflies the opportunity to consume mosquitoes, making them valuable predators that help in controlling mosquito populations in certain areas.

Attracting Dragonflies to Your Garden

Water Features and Pond Construction

Attracting dragonflies to your garden starts with providing a water source like a pond or water feature. When constructing a pond, make sure to include:

  • Shallow edges: Dragonflies need shallow areas to lay their eggs.
  • Varied depth: Different dragonfly species prefer different water depths for laying eggs.
  • Calm water: Dragonflies lay their eggs on floating vegetation and calm surfaces.

Choosing the Right Plants and Vegetation

Selecting the appropriate plants and vegetation helps create a welcoming environment for dragonflies. Some examples are:

  • Flowers: Planting flowers such as black-eyed Susans, meadow sage, yarrow, and borage can attract dragonflies.
  • Trees and shrubs: Trees and shrubs offer resting spots for dragonflies to perch and look for prey.
  • Water lilies: Floating vegetation like water lilies offer egg-laying sites for dragonflies.
  • Swamp milkweed: This plant, perfect for swampy areas, provides more attractive foliage for dragonflies.

Here’s a comparison table of some plants that attract dragonflies:

Plant Type Preferred Location Benefits for Dragonflies
Black-eyed Susan Flower Near water features Attracts dragonflies, provides shelter
Yarrow Flower Swampy areas Offers foliage for egg-laying
Water lily Floating Ponds and water features Attractive egg-laying site
Swamp milkweed Vegetation Wetlands Attractive foliage and shelter

By incorporating water features and the right plants into your garden, you can create a thriving habitat for dragonflies and enjoy their mosquito-eating benefits.

Other Insects and Animals That Eat Mosquitoes

Damselflies and Their Similarities to Dragonflies

Damselflies are closely related to dragonflies and share some similarities. Both are:

  • Predatory insects
  • A part of the Odonata order
  • Efficient in controlling mosquito populations

However, they do have differences such as:

  • Body shape: Damselflies are more slender
  • Wing position: Damselflies fold their wings when resting, dragonflies keep them outstretched

Just like dragonflies, damselflies consume various insects like flies, mosquitoes, and butterflies, contributing to natural pest control.

Birds, Bats, and Other Mosquito Predators

Birds and bats are also effective mosquito predators. Here are some examples:

  • Birds: Nighthawks, purple martins, eastern bluebirds, red-eyed vireos, yellow warblers, downy woodpeckers, and Baltimore orioles
  • Bats: Insect-eating bat species, such as the little brown bat

These animals not only eat mosquitoes but also other flying insects like flies, moths, and gnats.

Pros of natural mosquito predators:

  • Reduce mosquito populations
  • Control other insect pests
  • Contribute to a balanced ecosystem

Cons of relying on natural predators:

  • May not be sufficient to control large mosquito infestations
  • Some predators, like birds and bats, may carry diseases transmitted to humans

In addition to damselflies and birds, spiders can also be mosquito predators, capturing them in their webs to consume later.

Here’s a summary table of the discussed mosquito predators:

Mosquito Predator Features
Damselflies Slender body, fold wings when resting, eat mosquitoes and other small insects
Birds Variety of species, eat mosquitoes and other flying insects
Bats Insect-eating species consume mosquitoes, help in controlling pest insects
Spiders Capture mosquitoes in webs, contribute to pest control

Together, these predators play an essential role in controlling mosquito populations and maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Alternate Mosquito Control Methods

Natural Prevention and Population Control

  • Dragonflies: As part of the circle of life, dragonflies are natural predators of mosquitoes, helping to regulate their population in the outdoors.
  • Fish: Introducing fish to bodies of water can also help control mosquito larvae. For example, the Gambusia affinis is known as the “mosquito fish” due to its diet of mosquito larvae.

Chemical Solutions

  • Perimeter Sprays: Applying chemical sprays, such as pyrethroids, around the perimeter of your yard can help repel mosquitoes.
  • Larvicides: Chemical solutions like larvicides can be applied to bodies of water to target mosquito larvae and prevent them from developing into adults.
Method Pros Cons
Perimeter Sprays Effective repellent Potential harm to non-targeted species
Larvicides Targets larvae specifically Requires proper application

Bug Sprays

  • DEET: This is one of the most common and effective mosquito repellent ingredients found in bug sprays.
  • Picaridin: Another option that has been found to provide similar protection to DEET, but may be less irritating to skin.

Comparison Table:

Ingredient Protection Duration Skin Irritation
DEET Long-lasting Moderate
Picaridin Long-lasting Low

Remember, when implementing mosquito control methods, it is important to also take necessary precautions such as wearing long sleeves and pants during summer evenings, when mosquitoes are most active. Combining natural, chemical, and personal protections is the best solution to keep mosquito problems at bay.

Identifying Different Dragonfly Species

Common Dragonfly Species

There are numerous species of dragonflies, each with unique characteristics to their habitats and physical features. Some common species include:

  • Common Green Darner: A large, powerful flier known for its distinctive green and blue coloring, often found near water sources.
  • Meadow Sage: A smaller species with a vibrant blue hue, typically observed in grassy areas and gardens.
  • Blue Dasher: A medium-sized dragonfly with a bold blue and black pattern, commonly seen near ponds and lakes.

Unique Physical Features and Abilities

  • Size: Dragonflies vary in size, with some species having a wingspan of up to 16 cm, while others are smaller with a wingspan of around 5 cm.
  • Wings: Dragonflies have two sets of wings, allowing them to propel themselves forward, hover, and rapidly change direction.
  • Vision: The large, compound eyes of dragonflies provide nearly 360-degree vision, which aids them in detecting and capturing prey, such as mosquitoes and other flying insects.
Feature Common Green Darner Meadow Sage Blue Dasher
Size Large Small Medium
Habitat Water sources Grassy areas Ponds and lakes
Prey preference Aquatic insects Midges, moths Mosquitoes, wasps

Dragonflies are part of the Odonata order, recognized for their adept flight abilities and role as predators in their ecosystems. They are known to consume a variety of flying insects like mosquitoes, midges, moths, and even smaller dragonflies. Some species, like the Common Green Darner, are known to eat aquatic insects, small fish, and tadpoles, while nymphs of other species primarily consume small insects within their aquatic habitats.

Conclusion

In summary, dragonflies play a vital role in controlling mosquito populations.

  • Dragonfly adults feed on a variety of day-flying insects, often including mosquitoes1.
  • The aquatic nymphs (naiads) also help control mosquito larvae1.

Although it is not their primary diet, mosquitoes can indeed be found in the stomach contents of some dragonflies2. As a result, dragonflies can aid in mosquito control, providing a natural, chemical-free alternative.

A friendly comparison of dragonflies and mosquitoes:

Feature Dragonflies Mosquitoes
Classification Insects Insects
Wingspan Usually around 2 to 5 inches 0.15 to 0.63 inches
Lifespan 6 months to 7 years1 A few weeks to months
Role Generalist predators Blood-sucking insects
Impact on Humans Benefits by reducing pests Nuisance and vector for diseases

It is important to note that:

  • Dragonflies are not the primary predators of mosquitoes.
  • Mosquito control methods should be combined to produce efficient results.

Dragonflies provide ecological benefits, including:

  • Reducing pest populations.
  • Serving as an indicator of healthy aquatic ecosystems1.

Encouraging dragonflies’ presence in our gardens can be a helpful addition to mosquito control efforts. However, relying solely on them may not achieve the desired outcome.

Footnotes

  1. Dragonfly | NC State Extension 2 3 4 5 6

  2. Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) as a bridge between ecology and … 2 3 4 5

  3. https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/biological-control-information-center/beneficial-predators/dragonfly/

  4. https://home.nps.gov/articles/dragonfly-larvae.htm

  5. https://uwm.edu/field-station/dragonfly-swarm/

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Dragonfly Exoskeleton

 

what is this?
Hi – We love your site.
Hopefully you can help us. We live in Mid Michigan (Lansing) and my son (age 6) found this exoskeleton on a walk today. I don’t even know where to begin to find out what it is. (Well, I do, because I’m sending you an email.)
Thanks,
Lysne (and Liam)

Hi Lysne and Liam,
I’m guessing you found this exoskeleton near a pond or other body of water. It is the final molted skin of a dragonfly. The larvae, known as nymphs, are aquatic and predatory. They have an amazing detachable jaw that emerges as the nymph attacks prey, small aquatic insects, tadpoles and even fish. The nymph eventually crawls out of the water, molts and flies away as an adult dragonfly. Isn’t metamorphosis amazing?

Letter 2 – Dragonfly Cannibalism

 

eating
I think this is an Eastern Pondhawk female devouring a Ruby Meadowhawk- at least all the other Meadowhawks around were Ruby Meadowhawks. I never seem the see males with prey- are they less voracious or just less conspicuous? thanks- i just discovered your wonderful site.
Pam Burtt

Wow Pam,
What a great photo. We have always been under the impression that females of the species were better hunters.

Letter 3 – Dragonflies Do It in the Netherlands

 

Hello..
Here are two photo’s from Venray the Netherlands.. Was enjoying my little homegrown wheed when suddenly these two came flying by.. Just had to take their picture, as they were making love right under my nose, little perverts. Perhaps something for the buglove page, but what i’d like to ask is why the male (bottom) is sticking it’s face up the girl’s butt? Is there some kind of smelly spot there he likes? I see this behaviour one multiple of your hosted photo’s and was just wondering if the little creeps have the same behaviour as humans..
Best regards
Fred

Hi Fred,
Though quite logical, there are a few errors in your observations. First, and most importantly, you have mixed up the sexes. The female does not really have her head in the males butt, but he has grasped her head with his anal claspers. Here is a great explanation of the dragonfly mating activity from a wonderful site. “It takes newly emerged adult dragonflies a number of days to become reproductively mature. Since males generally mature faster than females they usually arrive at the breeding grounds first. In the period of time before females arrive the males stake out territories that they defend from males of their own and other species. The size of a dragonfly territory depends on the species and on the density of males in the breeding ground. Generally speaking, the larger the species the larger the territories and the more densely populated the area the smaller the territory. Dragonfly mating behaviour is quite elaborate and can take place either in flight or on a perch. Just prior to mating males must transfer sperm from their reproductive tract to special accessory genitalia. Once this is done males then chase flying females and grab them by the thorax with their legs. After a male has caught a female he then curves his abdomen towards her and latches onto her head with a set of special posterior abdomial appendages, called anal claspers. These claspers maintain a firm hold on the female and they can even at times dent her eyes. The male then releases his legs so that the pair remains attached in a head to tail position, often referred to as the tandem position. The female then bends her abdomen towards the male until her primary genitalia come into contact with the male’s accessory genitalia. This position is often referred to as the wheel. Dragonflies often assume this wheel position while still in flight which is quite an acrobatic accomplishment. While in this position sperm is transferred to the females’ reproductive tract via the male’s penis. In some species the males have a specialized penis that is designed to scrape out any sperm that already exist in the female’s reproductive tract from previous matings before sperm from the current mating are transferred (Thompson & Dunbar 1988). This adaptation helps to ensure that the last male to mate with a female is the one who’s sperm fertilizes most of her eggs. It is, therefore, important for males to make sure that no other male mates with the female before she lays her eggs. As a result many male dragonflies guard their mates until they have laid their eggs (McMillan 1991 and Thompson & Dunbar 1988). In some species the male even maintains his grasp on the female until she has finished laying her eggs, while in other species the male simply guards his egg laying mate by hovering over her. Once the female has laid her eggs the pair go off in their separate directions. All unreferenced information was gathered from Askew 1988, Corbet et al. 1960, and Walker 1958. “

Letter 4 – Dragonfly

 

Damsel Fly
Hello,
After snapping this picture of a damsel fly I turned to my insect guide and decided it must be an American Ruby Spotted. After finding your website I now think maybe it is an Autumn Meadowhawk. How can I tell the difference?
Carol

Hi Carol,
Honestly, we are hopelessly inadequate at identifying the Odonata to the species level. We can tell you that this is not an American Ruby Spotted Damselfly. It is a Dragonfly. Many species of Damselflies rest with folded wings while Dragonflies rest with wings opened.

Letter 5 – Dragonflies

 

Dragonflies
Dear WTB,
I just wanted to say that I love your site! I am sending you a few pictures of Dragonflies (I am nuts about them!) that I caught on film on a recent trek through North Point State Park in Maryland. 1. Common Whitetail (Male) Libellula lydia, 2. Female Eastern Pondhawk a.k.a. Common Pondhawk Erythemis simplicicollis, 3. Male Eastern Pondhawk a.k.a. Common Pondhawk Erythemis simplicicollis, 4. Male Needham’s Skimmer Libellula needhami. Enjoy….
Michelle

female Eastern Pondhawk male Eastern Pondhawk

male Common Whitetail male Needham’s Skimmer

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for sending your photos. We had to enlarge them because the files were so tiny and the quality is somewhat compromised because of the resizing.

Letter 6 – Dragonfly Cannibalism: Cyrano Darner eats Roseate Skimmer

 

Cannibalistic Dragonfly
Location: Bradenton, Florida
May 23, 2011 1:46 pm
Good Afternoon! Huge fan of your site, thank you so much! Spotted these dragonflies ”flying” together, it was only after I got close and heard the crunching and noticed that one was headless that I realized one was eating the other. Gross but cool photo – thought you might like to have it.
Signature: Linda Lamp

Dragonfly Cannibalism

Dear Linda,
Thank you so much for sending us your awesome images documenting Dragonfly cannibalism.  We must admit we are a bit challenged with Dragonfly species identification.  Perhaps our readership will be able to provide the names of the two individuals in this photo.  We believe the predator may be one of the Mosaic Darners in the genus
Aeshna (see BugGuide) and the prey may be a Skimmer.

Dragonfly Cannibalism

Update: May 24, 2011
We were in such a rush to get to work yesterday, we compiled this posting in a hurry, and in retrospect, we believe this second photo might make species identification easier as the wing veination is more evident.


Letter 7 – Dragonfly Exuvia

 

Subject: Strange insect (or exoskeleton?) in the Okanagan
Location: Shushwap, British Columbia, Canada
August 10, 2012 2:06 am
Hello Bugman,
I’ve been following your site for a while, but I’ve never needed to submit an inquiry as I live somewhere too cold for the more interesting species of insects. We just recently went on vacation and found this interesting bug perching upside down on some rocks by the lake. We first thought it was a spider, but then realized it only had 6 legs.
After some further investigation, as well as finding another one stuck in a spider web, we came to realize that it was either no longer alive or was simply the exoskeleton of a still living creature. Just wondering if you might be able to identify it for me? It’s been bugging me (hee hee).
Signature: Kate

Dragonfly Exuvia

Hi Kate,
This is the exuvia of a Dragonfly.  The most frequently submitted exuviae or shed exoskeletons we receive for identification are those of Cicadas, though Dragonflies are a close second.  In both cases, the nymphs live in dramatically different habitats than the adults.  Dragonfly nymphs are known as naiads and they are aquatic.

Letter 8 – Dragonfly Exuvia

 

Subject: 6 Legged Alien Bug
Location: Near river, Pittsburgh, PA
July 25, 2013 12:04 pm
Hi there! I’ve been trying to identify this bug all day now, normally I don’t have much of a problem figuring out bugs with so many identification websites out there. but this fellow, I can’t even find anything close. Unfortunately, its not a photo of the actual insect, but it’s hollow shell it molted out of at some point. It couldn’t have been that long ago, no longer than a month because I didn’t see these when I went down to the dock on July 4th for the fireworks. I found at least 50 of these empty shells at the edge of walls on the dock by the river, I say 50 because after I saw that many I darted out of there.
I would say they are about 3 inches in size, I wish I could have gotten a reference for its size in the shot but I was afraid to get close to it, even as a shell. They are mostly coupled together in groups of two, all over the walls.
My friends and I eagerly await your response, these things are so freaky!!!
Signature: Sarah Marshall

Dragonfly Exuvia
Dragonfly Exuvia

Dear Sarah,
This is the shed skin or exuvia of a Dragonfly.  In their immature phase, Dragonflies have aquatic larvae known as Naiads.  When they are ready to mature, the Naiads crawl out of the water, shed their skins for the final time, and the Dragonflies fly away, leaving the exuviae behind.

Wow! Really?! I never would have guessed that in a million years! Thanks so much for the response! I feel safer knowing that there isn’t an alien breed growing outside my office!
Muchly appreciated,
Sarah

Letter 9 – Dragonflies

 

Subject: Dragonflies are awesome!
Location: Back Bay National Park, Virginia Beach
August 14, 2015 3:21 am
Hi Daniel!
I absolutely love your site, by the way.
Anyways, my dad and I took a trip to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, at Virginia beach, at the end of July. My dad and I both love birdwatching, so we go there with binoculars and a camera, in my case. To my delight, the place was filled with many different species of dragonflies!!! Needless to say, I didn’t get much birdwatching done. 😛
I’m attaching three photos and (I think) I’ve identified the first two, but I have no idea what the third might be. Any thoughts?
1- Four spotted pennant
2- Widow skimmer (female)
3- ???
Thank you for all the work you do!
Signature: Al

Four Spotted Pennant
Four Spotted Pennant

Dear Al,
Thanks for the compliment.  We agree with your identification of the Four Spotted Skimmer based on images posted to BugGuide, but we are not certain that the second individual is a female Widow Skimmer.  Often female Dragonflies have less obvious coloration and markings and they can be more difficult to identify.  We are posting your images and perhaps one of our readers will weigh in on an identification while we continue to research the matter.

Unidentified Dragonfly
Unidentified Dragonfly
Unidentified Dragonfly
Unidentified Dragonfly

Letter 10 – Dragonfly Exuviae

 

Subject: weird spider-looking thing
Location: Florida
December 11, 2015 8:08 pm
Mom found this bug on her motorcycle cover. It looks like a spider but has six legs (or eight if the front two are tucked under). We live in central Florida and right now the weather is in the high seventies to low eighties. I’ve perused the internet for hours and have come up fruitless. Even my father-in-law who makes his living in pest control doesn’t even know what it is. Thank you in advance for your help ?
Signature: KayleighH

Dragonfly Exuviae
Dragonfly Exuviae

Dear Kayleigh,
These are exuviae or shed exoskeletons of insects that have undergone metamorphosis, transforming from nymphs to winged adults.  We believe they look like Dragonfly exuviae, leading us to believe there is a pond near where the motorcycle was stored.  We are postdating your submission to go live during our holiday vacation.

Thank you so much! This was driving me crazy. You are definitely correct about the pond! There is one right in their back yard. Happiest of holidays to you!

Letter 11 – Dragonfly Exuvia

 

Subject: Mantis?
Location: Naples, Florida
April 19, 2016 8:06 am
I’m not sure but I think this might be a molt from a mantis of some kind. Any help would be greatly appreciated. It was clinging to a friend’s lanai screen down here in Naples, Florida.
Signature: S. Ferree

Dragonfly Exuvia
Dragonfly Exuvia

Dear S. Ferree,
Your images are gorgeous.  They are not molts from a mantis, but rather the molt or Exuvia of a Dragonfly.  Dragonfly larvae are known as Naiads, and they are aquatic, so we are guessing there is a pond or stagnant fountain near your friend’s lanai screen.

Dragonfly Exuvia
Dragonfly Exuvia

Daniel,
Thank you so much!  That’s really cool.  You’re right about the water.  He lives on a peninsula of a lake.  He and his wife will be relieved that it wasn’t anything to be scared of.  They had a second one show up yesterday.
Thanks again
S. Ferree

Letter 12 – Dragonfly Exuviae

 

Subject: Upstate NY alien bug
Location: Jeffersonville, NY
June 3, 2016 5:23 am
Hello. While visiting Jeffersonville, NY a friend and I found a ton of these bugs mating on a dock of a small Lake. We cannot seem to find this listed anywhere. Thoughts?
Signature: Jay Pellegrino

Dragonfly Exuviae
Dragonfly Exuviae

Dear Jay,
These are not mating insects.  These are the Exuviae or cast off exoskeletons of Dragonfly Naiads.  Immature Dragonflies, called Naiads, are aquatic, and as they near maturity, they crawl out of the water, generally seeking a vertical feature like a log jutting out of the water or reeds growing out of the water, or in your case, the dock, and there they molt for the final time, emerging as winged adult Dragonflies.  We suspect that a second Naiad used the Exuvia of another Naiad that exited the water earlier, and attached to it for support.

Wow thank you for replying!! We learned something today ?☺️

Letter 13 – Dragonflies including female Whitetail

 

Subject: Dragonflies
Location: Faribault County, Minnesota
July 13, 2016 12:42 pm
Greetings!
After a season away from my rain garden due to heart surgery (I received a “heart pump” and am on the transplant list), I finally returned to my garden this Spring 2016. I was so excited, just like a kid waiting for Christmas which, of course, means my plants weren’t blooming quickly enough and the insects weren’t returning soon enough.
Our native bees have slowly been awakening/returning, as have a few wasps and flies. The grasshoppers have hatched so they will be growing, and I have an abundant crop of Milkweed Bugs which does not thrill me. As I weed and come across their larvae I dispatch a few and return them to the dirt. Seems to be quite the year for Earwigs, too.
For butterflies I’ve seen an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, some Red Admirals, a Common Buckeye (a first for me), a Monarch, a beat up Great Spangled Fritillary (wing edges shredded) and several Sulphurs. I keep thinking they are all late, but we had an “early” Spring so my rhythm is off and I’m further along in the season than the insects.
I’m including three photos I took in early June of Dragonflies: two are differing angles of a “spotted body” spotted wing dragonfly, and the other is amber/honey colored. I do not know the varieties of dragonflies, though could probably tell a damselfly from a dragonfly. Can you further educate me?
Thanks so much!
Signature: Wanda J. Kothlow

Female Whitetail
Female Whitetail

Dear Wanda,
We are sorry to hear about your health problems and we hope things turn out well.  It is nice to hear you are enjoying your rain garden.  The spotted Dragonfly is a female Whitetail,
Plathemis lydia, which we identified thanks to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Females have a short, stout abdomen with several oblique dorsolateral white or pale yellow markings against a brown ground color; each wing has three black evenly-spaced blotches.”  We have several images of male Common Whitetails in our archives, but your image is the first female we have identified.  We will attempt to identify the other Dragonfly you submitted.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

Wow, Daniel.
I actually submitted something y’all didn’t have in your archives! How cool is that?!
Glad I contributed to such an awesome, informative and educational endeavor you and your volunteers have going there.
As I see it, we all have health problems of some sort, whether we acknowledge them or not. I fully expect to be on the list for a donor heart for three years or more. So long as this heart pump (technical term is LVAD) keeps working, I’ll be okay. My goal following surgery for the pump was to get back to my gardening and photographing nature doing her thing in my little corner of this great big world. I’m only 53 so I have oodles of things I still want to do. No bucket list or grand plans to travel the world (I’d make a terrible traveler with my vertigo and motion sickness). Just simple things, like tending my rain garden, keeping a photo journal of the things I see here and at Mom’s (she has 24 birdfeeders and is a Certified Wildlife Habitat through NWF), create photo cards for Mom to send, that kind of thing. I’m also planning to make some educational photo albums for the Community Room here at the apartments so the residents can see photos of what I see in the garden and if I include some information about what the photo is depicting, they might learn a few things they did not already know. I just can’t keep the learning and education to myself!
I am beginning to think I’m a closet naturalist, except I don’t draw in a notebook, I use my camera instead. And then I share what I observe with others after reading and learning more!
Keep up the good buzzing, humming, and fluttering!
Blessings,
Wanda

Letter 14 – Dragonfly Exuvia

 

Subject: Michigan Upper Peninsula
Location: Steuben, MI
July 4, 2017 3:19 pmWe were fishing in the Western Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and found several exoskeletons of this bug. We found almost all of them on cedar trees near the edges of freshwater lakes. We found the in Late June. We didn’t see any live bugs. I’m in my late 30s and have lived in Michigan my whole life and have never seen this bug before. I took a photo of one husk next to a quarter. It is attached. Any ideas?
Signature: Mich. Fisherman

Dragonfly Exuvia

Dear Mich. Fisherman,
This is the exuvia or cast off exoskeleton of a Dragonfly.  Its shape is similar to that of a Dragonhunter nymph, so we believe the species is
Hagenius brevistylus.  The aquatic nymphs of Dragonflies, known as naiads, leave the water and molt for the final time, emerging as winged adults.

Letter 15 – Dragonfly Exuvia

 

Subject: Dragonfly nymph exoskeletons??
Location: Plymouth county, Massachusetts
July 23, 2017 7:40 am
Hello again! Just submitted a bug not long before but I found another puzzling specimen. This exoskeleton was spotted on some leaves poking just above the surface of a shallow pond. There were a number of these in similar spots close by. Judging by the number of dragonflies buzzing around I assumed these were the exoskeletons of their nymphs! Is this assumption correct? Thanks again for your help in identifying the many insects we live with!
Signature: Enigmatic Exoskeleton Examiner

Dragonfly Exuvia

Dear Enigmatic Exoskeleton Examiner,
Here is another E word for you.  The discarded exoskeleton is also known as an exuvia.  You are correct.  This is the exuvia or cast-off exoskeleton of a Dragonfly.

Letter 16 – Dragonfly Exuvia

 

Subject:  Strange bug appears on my boat dock
Geographic location of the bug:  Odessa Florida
Date: 03/05/2018
Time: 07:28 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
this is one strange caper, lol/ This thing really looks strange to me. I have tried to identify him/her, with no success. I swept one away before, then realized it was hollow… zoom in. It does not appear to be a locust of any kind… but what do I know.
How you want your letter signed:  My daughter refuses to visit till I give her the all clear

Dragonfly Exuvia

Dear MDRTVTIGHTAC,
All Insects, and other Arthropods as well, shed a hard exoskeleton during each stage of metamorphosis, and the cast-off exoskeleton is called an exuvia.  This is the exuvia of a Dragonfly.  The nymphs of Dragonflies are aquatic and they are called naiads.  When the Dragonfly naiad approaches maturity, the nymph leaves the water and climbs up a vertical feature, like a dock post or a reed, and it molts for the final time, eventually flying away as a winged adult Dragonfly.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

4 thoughts on “Do Dragonflies Eat Mosquitoes? The Natural Pest Control Explained”

  1. Good morning,

    I heard that females are more agressive in hunting because of the extra energy needed to produce eggs.

    However, in the trip to Pennsylvania I made last August I witnessed a male Eastern Pondhawk landing on a branch with a tandem (!) of Powdered Dancers, the jaws firmly planted onto the female Dancer’s thorax; the male managed to escape after a moment but the female made the Pondhawk’s dinner.
    I have a picture of it eating the female dancer but I don’t know how to post pictures here.

    Renaud, Switzerland

    Reply
  2. Good morning,

    Both have typical feature among North American Odos, that reflect in their common name.
    The eater is a Cyrano Darner, for its extended ‘nose’, a female, the eated is a male Roseate Skimmer, for obvious reason, a male.

    Reply
  3. Thanks for such a quick response! I wasn’t too sure about #2. I only turned up a similar dragonfly using google images. I’d love to know what it is! Hope someone can point me in the right direction!

    Reply

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