How to Attract Dragonflies: Simple Tips for a Buzzing Backyard

Attracting dragonflies to your yard can be a rewarding way to enjoy their beauty while also benefiting from their ability to keep mosquito populations in check. These fascinating winged insects play an important role in controlling mosquitoes and other pests, thanks to their voracious appetite for these annoying critters.

One key step in making your yard a haven for dragonflies is providing a water feature. Dragonflies spend much of their life around water sources, laying their eggs and going through larval stages before maturing into the graceful adults we recognize. A small pond, ideally at least 20 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep, can be a perfect habitat for dragonflies in your garden. Including native plants in and around the water feature not only provides hiding spots for dragonflies but also helps create a more natural ecosystem that they’ll love to call home.

Understanding Dragonflies

Life Cycle

Dragonflies have a fascinating life cycle that includes four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult.

  • Eggs are laid in or near water sources, such as ponds or streams
  • Larva develops underwater and can live up to four years1
  • Nymphs are also aquatic, with alien-like appearances and large eyes1
  • Adults are the recognizable, winged insects we often see flying around

Habitat Requirements

To attract dragonflies, it’s essential to understand their habitat requirements. Some key components include:

  • A nearby water source for laying eggs, such as a pond or stream2
  • Plenty of aquatic plants for shelter and hunting3
  • Access to open spaces for flying and hunting

Behavior

Dragonflies are agile, fast fliers that are skilled in various aerial maneuvers4. They can:

  • Hover in place
  • Fly sideways or upside down
  • Spin 360 degrees on axis
  • Fly backward (a rare ability in the animal world4)

Diet

Dragonflies are valuable predators with a diverse diet. They prey on:

  • Mosquitoes and midges4
  • Butterflies, moths, and bees4
  • Flies, wasps, flying ants5
  • Even other dragonflies4

Here’s a comparison table of their diet:

Prey Frequency in Diet
Mosquitoes Very common
Midges Very common
Butterflies Occasional
Moths Occasional
Bees Occasional
Flies Occasional
Wasps Occasional
Flying ants Occasional
Other dragonflies Rare

Ensuring a sufficient food source is essential for attracting dragonflies to your environment.

Creating a Dragonfly-Friendly Garden

Choosing the Right Plants

Selecting suitable plants helps attract dragonflies. They prefer native plants as they create a familiar habitat for them. For example:

  • Milkweed: Essential for monarch caterpillars and attracts various pollinators1.
  • Mountain Mint: Pinkish-white flowers with silver bracts that attract honeybees, butterflies, and beneficial insects2.

Water Features and Ponds

Dragonflies live near wetlands, ponds, or rivers. Adding a garden pond increases the likelihood of attracting dragonflies3. Here are some tips:

  • Create shallow edges for easy access to water.
  • Use water plants like water lilies to provide shelter.

Shelter and Perching Spots

Provide areas for perching and shelter around your garden. Dragonflies will use vegetation as resting spots and to survey their territory. You can use:

  • Tall grasses or reeds near the pond’s edge.
  • Bamboo stakes or thin branches placed throughout the garden.

Encouraging Prey and Pollinators

Dragonflies feed on insects, so it’s essential to have a thriving ecosystem in your garden. Encourage pollinators and prey by:

  • Planting a variety of flowering plants, such as milkweed and mountain mint2.
  • Avoiding pesticides as dragonflies are sensitive to toxic chemicals3.

By following these simple guidelines, your garden will become a haven for dragonflies and other beneficial insects.

Footnotes

  1. Home & Garden Information Center 2 3

  2. NC State Extension 2 3

  3. U.S. National Park Service 2 3

  4. Species Spotlight – Dragonflies – U.S. National Park Service 2 3 4 5

  5. Home and Garden IPM from Cooperative Extension

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 – Owlfly mistaken for Dragonfly

 

Subject: Why does this dragonfly have clubbed antennae?
Location: Northern Kentucky
June 28, 2014 7:22 pm
Dear Bugman,
After looking for about two hours all over the web, I can’t find an ID for this so I’m typing this request… which probably means I will find the answer five minutes from now…. Anyway, my sons found this dragonfly-like insect on our siding in Kentucky. And I have to brag on them for just a second: they are 5 and 9 and knew that dragonflies don’t normally have “antlers.” It looks like a dragonfly, a moth, and a butterfly had an impossible love child. Dragonfly body/head, hairy, with clubbed antennae. Whuh? P.S. I think I accidentally uploaded the same pic twice.
Signature: Hannah P

Owlfly
Owlfly

Dear Hannah,
You are having identification problems because this is not a Dragonfly.  It is an Owlfly, and it is in the order Neuroptera with Antlions and Lacewings.  Many years ago, the first time we received an image of a colorful Owlfly from Italy, we were quite confused as it seemed to have the characteristics of several different insect orders and families.  It really reminded us of a Skipper because of the antennae and coloration, but we knew that was not correct.

Thanks Bugman,
After asking you about my owlfly, of course I found it this morning. Still, your reply is appreciated. I knew it couldn’t be a dragonfly, but I thought it quite funny that it looked like a dragonfly had eaten a whole butterfly and left the antennae hanging out of his mouth.
I’m glad I didn’t find that Italian Owlfly you linked to me, because much as I like bugs, that thing would’ve freaked me out big time. You ever hear the description of scorpions that goes: “scorpions are what happens when God combines spiders, snakes, and nightmares”? I’m thinking that Italian Owlfly would merit a similar hyperbole.
H

Letter 2 – Polyphemus Moth and Dragonfly

 

Moth Identification
Location: Oshkosh, WI
February 25, 2012 11:00 pm
Just wanted to say that I am a huge fan and addicted to the website. I’m not a big bug person, I prefer reptiles myself, but as bugs tend to be just as misunderstood I sincerely appreciate the work you do in educating the general public. I have here two mysteries I’d be very thankful if you helped to solve. The first is a picture I took while at work. I work at a large factory, which, unfortunately, is an uninhabitable place in hotter months unless the bay doors are open. This means that creatures often find themselves indoors without a way to get back out again. I fear this dragonfly was one of those creatures, and he was dead while still stuck to the wall. I have been unable to identify him: he is very dusty and I fear this may be a case of Unnecessary Carnage due to him not being discovered and saved sooner. Any ideas?
Later that same night, which was a very strange night full of oversized bugs, I heard my cat freaking out at our sliding glass window. Opening it, I was delighted to see such a huge moth, as I never get the honor. After watching it for a while, I was dismayed at how lethargic it seemed, on such a warm night. I didn’t want this to be another case of a beautiful bug living its last moments in my hands, so I put it somewhere more comfortable and turned off my porch light. In the morning it had gone, and I do not know whether it had reached the end of its life or moved on to better things. I prefer to believe the latter. I /think/ that it may be a Polyphemus Moth but for whatever reason could not find a photo with markings that were exactly what I’d witnessed. Do moths have much variation in color and pattern within the same species? Thanks in advance for any information~!
Pictures are taken in summer, Central Wisconsin. Apologies for the quality.
Signature: Jen

Polyphemus Moth

Dear Jen,
Indeed your moth is a Polyphemus Moth, and she is a lovely specimen.  Polyphemus Moths make scrumptious morsels for many nocturnal predators including skunks, racoons and bats.  We doubt the bats would be discouraged by the Polyphemus Moth’s defense mechanism, to mimic the cyclops Polyphemus when disturbed.  The Polyphemus Moth often rests with its lower wings covered.  Upon being poked, it will quickly reveal one oculus and appear to have been wakened from a sound sleep by an annoyance.  When the second eye is revealed, destroying the cyclopian illusion, the entire illusory head of the imagined threat of a human sized head 
could scare a racoon or skunk, or maybe not, but it does work on birds.  We will attempt to identify your Dragonfly later.  Our first thought or guess would be a female Green Darner.

Dragonfly

You guys are great. Thanks so much. Very neat story about the origin of the name, I’m pretty amused by it!


Letter 3 – Naiad found in Pond in Chile

 

Subject: Large bug in pond seems to be eating frog spawn
Location: Aisen, Patagonia, Chile
October 26, 2014 11:31 am
A few years ago we made a pond in our garden in Patagonia, Chile. A few weeks ago a frog laid some spawn and three weeks later we wondered what had happened to the developing tadpoles, then looked closely and spotted several long insects slightly below the water, congregated around the spawn, which now contained only one of the tiny tadpoles. The insects seem to be sprouting wings. Are they a type of dragonfly?
Signature: Paul Coleman

Naiad:  Possibly Dragonfly nymph with frog eggs
Naiad: Possibly Dragonfly nymph with frog eggs

Dear Paul,
The insect in your image is an aquatic nymph of a flying insect, known as a Naiad.  It is very likely that the naiad will develop into a Dragonfly.

Dragonfly Naiad, we believe
Dragonfly Naiad, we believe

Letter 4 – Naiad in Aquarium

 

Any idea what this is?
I saw this insect in my tropical fish tank sitting on the filter. I saw a similar one, or perhaps the same one, floating in the water yesterday but it looked white/transparent. Do you have any idea what this is? Kind regards.
Charles

Hi Charles,
This is a Naiad in the order Odonata which contains Dragonflies and Damselflies. Naiads are aquatic nymphs of flying insects. It was probably introduced on live plants or possibly, if you purchase any live foods, along with the food source. The transparent specimen you found might have been the discarded exoskeleton after this specimen molted. Many Naiads are predatory, and will feed on small fish, especially newly hatched fry.

Letter 5 – Naiad on a Hook

 

Bug identification.
Location: Diggins, Missouri, under water in a pond.
November 18, 2010 1:39 pm
I was fishing a little while back and caught a rock with a little bug that was living in/on it under the water. It stayed on the rock and didn’t really seem to notice I was holding it, I just ended up taking a picture and putting him back, it looks like a bedbug, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out what it was, it’s ”bugging” me. If you could solve this mystery for me it’d be very appreciated.
Signature: Brad McBandycars

Naiad on a Hook

Hi Brad McBandycars,
You hooked a Naiad, a talent that Ulysses would admire.  A Naiad is the aquatic nymph of a flying insect that is usually associated with water. Your Naiad is a young Dragonfly.  If the Naiads of Dragonflies are similar to other larvae, they probably undergo 5 molts before becoming adults.  The molts are stages known as instars and the adult is called the Imago.  We cannot identify the species of Dragonfly you have hooked.

Unknown Dragonfly Naiad

Letter 6 – More Dragonfly Cannibalism: Dragonhunter devours Darner

 

Hungry Dragonfly
Dear Bugman,
My brother noticed two large dragonflies zooming about his yard (in Hampden, Maine) attached to one another. He thought they were in the throes of love. When they landed in a bush he managed a closer look and found he was mistaken – it was a dining ritual as opposed to a courting ritual. Best Regards and Happy Bugging
Steve Cole

Hi Steve,
This is our second Dragonfly Cannibalism in a month. Nice green eyes there.

Letter 7 – Not Locust Mites but Larval Water Mites on Dragonfly

 

mites?
Hello Bugman,
I just came over your site on the internet. I like taking macro shots of insect and today I have taken an interesting one. There are were some red dots on the wing of a dragonfly. I think maybe they can be some sort of insects or mites. I live in Hungary, Europe I hope you can help me anyway…
Best regards.
Ambruzs Péter

Dear Ambruzs Péter,
Your photo is beautiful. We suspect you have photographed the Locust Mite, Eutrombidium rostratum. Essig writes that it : “is the common locust mite of the United States and Europe. It is a large bright red species. … They are often taken on the body and wings of grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and mantids, and do not attack humans.” Even if it is not that exact species, you have most definitely photographed mites hitching a ride on your dragonfly.

Update from Barry M. OConnor (05/23/2006)
Locust mites on dragonfly (8/7/04). You’re close here. These mites are related to trombidiids, erythraeids and chiggers, but are actually larval water mites in the family Arrenuridae, genus Arrenurus. Water mites have the same life cycle as their terrestrial relatives (i.e. parasitic larva, predatory post-larvae), but the predatory stages are fully aquatic, living in ponds, lakes and streams. Arrenurus species commonly parasitize odonates. Unlike the red larvae, the post-larvae are a beautiful greenish blue, and are good swimmers in ponds & lakes.

Letter 8 – Mystery Water Creature identified as Dragonhunter Naiad

 

Water Bug
This creature was swimming in a cool, spring-fed creek in Arkansas on July 3. It was about the size of a silver dollar, or perhaps a bit larger, not including the legs. It was so big that I first thought it was a baby turtle. Some biologically oriented friends agreed that it was probably nymph of something, but they weren’t sure what. Any ideas?
Tom

Hi Tom,
This is one of the most perplexing mysteries to come our way in quite some time. The size is puzzlingly large. The mouthparts to not resemble those of a Hemipteran. The body shape is not consistant with that of a Dragonfly Naiad. We agree it is most likely a nymph. We are calling in the big guns and requesting assistance from Eric Eaton. Eric quickly wrote back with this information: “I don’t blame anyone for being mystified over this creature! Had I not remembered an image in a book I have on Fresh-Water Biology, I wouldn’t have been able to give an answer, either. It is indeed a nymph, of a dragonfly in the genus Hagenius, which I believe is in the family Gomphidae (clubtail dragonflies). I don’t know anything about their biology, but presumably a Google search would yield further info.”

Dragonhunter
(11/05/2006)
Hi Guys,
I noticed the “mystery water creature” on your site and I think it is the nymph of a Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus) – a species of dragonfly. Keep up the good work
Aaron

Hi Aaron,
Thanks for the information. Both you and Eric Eaton quickly resolved this mystery for us. BugGuide has a nice image of the Naiad and we also located images of adults.

Letter 9 – Mosaic Darner

 

Awesome dragonfly!
I was able to photograph this very patient dragonfly that was resting on the side of my house. My daughter and I had fun trying to identify it. We think it’s a paddle-tailed darner. Are we right? We’ve seen as many as 30-40 of them flying around the house at the same time! They are amazing to watch.
You have a great site!
Regards,
Jeannie Devon
Anchorage, Alaska

Hi Jeannie,
We looked on BugGuide and have concluded this is one of the Mosaic Darners in the genus Aeshna.

Letter 10 – Mystery from Scotland: Abdomen of a Golden Ringed Dragonfly perhaps

 

2″ LONG BLACK & YELLOW CASING WITH BUG EMERGING
June 9, 2010
Hi I live in Perthshire, Scotland and have just found this “thing” in my garden. The casing isnt like a chrysalis its too smooth and very very narrow – the colours are black with yellow stripes. Any Ideas??
Kay
Perthshire, Scotland

Thing from Scotland

Hi Kay,
Please provide more information.  Where was this thing found?  Underground?  Inside a stump?  On a branch? Underwater?  Perhaps someone with recognize this thing and write in to us.

The photo of the Mystery bug in Scotland looks like the dried up tail of some kind of flying insect, like a damselfly, dragonfly or even like a grasshopper. The post didn’t seem to have any responses so I just wanted to add my thoughts.
Daniel Fagan

Update from Karl
June 14, 2010
Hi Daniel and Kay:
I was initially unconvinced that this was actually an animate object, but it looks like it could be the abdomen of a female Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii). It looks very similar and the species does occur in Scotland. I haven’t checked out all of the possibilities, but this looks pretty close to me. Here is another example: http://www.brocross.com/dfly/species/boltonii.htm. Regards.  Karl

Letter 11 – Mosaic Darner

 

Dragonfly
Location:  Bismarck, North Dakota
August 7, 2010 2:53 am
I looked through your photos of dragonflies. Took time to read some of the letters and replies. Such an interesting group of creatures. I may have missed it, but don’t recall seeing this type of dragonfly. I photographed it in my garden last year. It was patiently resting while I ran back inside to grab my camera. This was such a pretty color combination. Just thought I’d share since the photos turned out so well.
Doreen

Mosaic Darner

Hi again Doreen,
This Mosaic Darner in the genus
Aeshna is quite the beauty.  You can see the numerous species in the genus posted to BugGuide.

Mosaic Darner

Letter 12 – Possibly Canada Darner from Saskatchewan, Canada

 

Large dragonflies
Location: Northern Saskatchewan, Canada
November 26, 2011 11:15 am
Hey, bugman! I’ve noticed a distinct deficit in dragon-fly related request so I thought I’d send in this big fellow. I live in northern Saskatchewan, Canada and these huge guys are incredibly common in the swampy north. I am currently further up south and I haven’t been seeing too much of them. They are almost always blue in coloration, although I have noticed a very occasional greenish variation on the same species (they are identical lest the color). They boom in the summer months (beginning in June and fading out by August), and almost blacken the sky during years with high mosquito populations. I’ve noticed that you do not get many requests from Canada and I am certain that we get some very strange insects in the north of Saskatchewan which may have never been called to your attention before. Anyhow, an ID on this fellow would be lovely, thanks!
Signature: Grace P

Canada Darner, perhaps

Hi Grace,
Thanks for your submission.  We believe the pictured individual is a male Variegated Meadowhawk,
Sympetrum corruptum, and since the species is sexually dimorphic, the color variations you describe might be explained by the sex of the individual.  Also, it is possible that when mosquitoes are abundant, more than one species of Dragonfly may be enjoying the bounty.  You can see some of the species variations on BugGuide.

Thanks guys, this is very interesting. I have one final question, however! The variegated meadowhawks pictured on bugguide are most certainly present in the same ecosystem as the blue fellow that I sent in, but I have noted that they are considerably smaller. They are very similar to the larger blue meadowhawks in terms of the way that their anatomy is set up but they are perhaps two inches in length, whereas the blue/green variation meadowhawk seems to peak at three and a half or four inches in length. Is it possible that these different coloration/sizes could denote different stages in the development of the same species, or would this mean that they are different all together? If it were summer I would have no problem taking pictures to better illustrate this, but alas it is November and twenty-six below. What is your opinion on this matter? Thanks!

Possible Correction
Hi again Grace,
We have to confess that we often do not feel confident with Dragonfly identifications.  We would suggest posting a comment to this posting to see if a correction comes in sometime in the future.  Dragonflies do undergo a teneral or immature winged stage, but they change color as they mature.  They do not change size.  There is often individual variation in the size of adults within a species as well.  Also, we did not receive an image of a blue Dragonfly in your original email, only the brick red image that we posted.  Perhaps the species you have described are Darners in the family Aeshnidae (see BugGuide), which includes the Canadian Darner,
Aeshna canadensis (see BugGuide).  The individual in your photo seems more reddish, but the markings do look quite similar to the Canada Darner, especially this image on BugGuide.


Hello, and thanks for the quick response again! I realize now that the image does not make the coloration abundantly clear; what appears to be red (due to the lighting) is more of a soft brown in reality and there is a pattern of blue, as well. After looking around a bit, you are indeed correct in identifying this fellow as a Canadian Darner. The coloration is exactly the same and the pattern is spot-on. I had also noted a small black mark at the front of each wing which my dragonfly also has. Also, his eyes were a lovely green which seems to be characteristic of Canadian Darners. Thank you very much, now I know!

Letter 13 – Possible Widow Skimmers

 

Subject: band -winged meadowhawk?
Location: Auburn, NJ
July 22, 2012 9:34 am
Hi,
I’m finding this dragonfly more difficult to identify, as the red (female?) seems to get the most attention in the pics I’ve found to compare to. I think of aviator sunglasses when I see this kind of banding, know I have seen them each summer the past few years.
Still not sure though…but best guess?
Signature: Creek Keeper

What’s That Dragonfly???

Dear Creek Keeper,
We often have trouble with Dragonfly identifications.  It is the male Band Winged Meadowhawk that is red, not the female.  In our opinion, the abdomen markings do not look correct for this to be a female Band Winged Meadowhawk based on BugGuide images.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in this identification.

Appreciate your taking the time to look. I don’t feel so bad if even you have trouble.  Seems there are variations on every theme, so not so easy to sort out.  Plus, I have to get lucky enough to get a decent shot for details you just can’t see when they’re on the wing.  Which is most of the time.
I had trouble with this one last year too, so will keep trying.
Val

Update with new photo
http://bugguide.net/node/view/586
Daniel, I thought I had identified a different species on my own over the weekend, didn’t want to ask too many requests. But compare these two,attached pics if you have time, and tell me if you think  Widow skimmer  might be right instead of meadow hawk?…
going buggy in South Jersey,
Creek Keeper

Possibly Widow Skimmer

Hello again Val,
We actually considered the Widow Skimmer, but the coloration of the body didn’t seem right on the first image you sent since it doesn’t have yellow stripes.  Perhaps it is a male that is just beginning to turn pruinose.  Here is the description from Bugguide:  “Mature males have a large basal area of brown on each of the four wings, and each wing also has a whitish area roughly at the middle. Their brown bodies become increasingly pruinose (whitish) as they get older.  Females and immature males have the same brown wing bands as the mature males, but not the whitish areas. Wings usually have a brown tip. A dorsal view of the abdomen shows a brown band at center with a yellow stripe running along each side.”

Thanks again Daniel.   Dragonflies are just so difficult, the differences are subtle but maybe if I keep taking pictures eventually we’ll track them down. And if nothing else, maybe the pics will help someone else with the same dilemma down the road.   It just gets a bit overwhelming for a layperson to navigate the big sites, though I think I have looked at every pic on bug guide at this point?  Seemed like.
So, there’s a NJ dragonfly site, I’ll put a query in there. Though not sure they will respond, seems I’ve tried before. Appreciate your taking the time to answer. I’ll let you know if I can get it figured out.
In the meantime, my  pet name for this one is Top Gun. Looks like he’s wearing aviator sunglasses, right?  ha
Val

Letter 14 – Mosaic Darner from Canada, but what species???

 

Subject: What is this insects name
Location: Nl canada
August 10, 2016 5:11 am
Hello what kind of insect is this
Signature: U choose

Mosaic Darner
Mosaic Darner

Oh Yee of So Few Words,
As instructed, we have chosen a name for you that seems most appropriate.  We cannot thank you enough for providing us with such cryptic information that we needed to go to the internet even to learn where this insect was sighted.  We do not have the Canadian provinces committed to memory, and we are guessing that Nl is the abbreviation for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, meaning that you are in the far north.  Insect identification presents enough challenges for us since we have no formally trained entomologists on our staff, and we understand that you are so busy (with all those extra daylight hours that your geographic location provides during the summer) that you are unable to type out complete words, or even to add punctuation to your sentences, so we didn’t mind increasing our knowledge of Canadian geography before we began the research necessary to determine that your Mosaic Darner in the genus
Aeshna is most likely the Canadian Darner, Aeshna canadensis, which BugGuide lists as having been sighted in Newfoundland and Labrador in July, the Lake Darner, Aeshna eremita, which BugGuide lists in Newfoundland and Labrador in August, the Variable Darner, Aeshna interrupta, which BugGuide lists for Newfoundland and Labrador in August, the Sedge Darner, Aeshna juncea, which BugGuide lists in Newfoundland and Labrador in July or the Shadow Darner, Aeshna umbrosa, which BugGuide lists in Newfoundland and Labrador in both July and August.  We would not rule out one of the other 15 species of Mosaic Darners in the genus Aeshna that BugGuide recognizes from North America as many other species are found in nearby Canadian provinces.  At any rate, we do not possess the necessary skills to definitively identify your Mosaic Darner to the species level, so we will stop at the genus level and we hope one of our more skilled readers will be able to nail the identification properly.  We sincerely apologize if we have written more than you have time to read in your busy life, but unlike one of the major candidates for the highest office in The United States of America, we appreciate the beauty of the written word that loses so much in either 140 characters or sound bytes.
P.S.  We believe the bright colors indicate that this Mosaic Darner is a male.

Thank you so much for your reply you are awesome made me smile.

Letter 15 – Neon Skimmer Oviposits

 

Subject:  Flame Darner Oviposits
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
July 8, 2017 11:30 AM
About a week ago, we watched a male Neon Skimmer patrolling our dilapidated fountain, but by the time we got the camera, he was gone.  Today we watched a female Neon Skimmer flying and dipping her abdomen into the water, and we were successful in getting a few poor quality images of her laying eggs in the same fountain.  There are never any Mosquito Larvae in the fountain, so we have concluded that there must be some predator eating them.  Dragonfly larvae are just the type of predator that would help control the Mosquito larvae.

Neon Skimmer Ovipositing

Letter 16 – Ovipositing Emperor Dragonfly from UK

 

Subject: Emperor Dragonfly
Location: Bristol, UK
July 25, 2017 9:14 am
Hi Bugman!
I thought you might like for your site this picture of a female Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator laying eggs. The pond is a new one just created at my local wildlife park.
Signature: Zoovolunteer

Emperor Dragonfly Oviposits

Dear Zoovolunteer,
We love your image of an ovipositing Emperor Dragonfly.  Our related Green Darner,
Anax junius, is also a magnificent Dragonfly.  We recently shot an image of an ovipositing Flame Darner, and her technique was quite different, dipping the tip of her abdomen beneath the surface while hovering.

Letter 17 – Orbweaver eats Dragonfly

 

Subject:  Bright Red Orbweaver Spider
Geographic location of the bug:  West Palm Beach, Florida
Date: 12/08/2017
Time: 03:21 PM EDT
Greetings What’s That Bug!
Okay, I know this is an orbweaver spider. However, I’m not sure which one. Is it Eriophora ravilla? Is it Neoscona crucifera? Is it something completely different? Whatever it is, that bright red color sure stands out. This picture was taken at approximately 8:30 a.m. at Winding Waters Natural Area in West Palm Beach, Florida. Most of the web was down, whether that was from the dragonfly tearing it apart or the spider was doing some housekeeping. Thanks for shedding some light on this colorful spider.
How you want your letter signed:  Ann Mathews

Orbweaver eats Dragonfly

Dear Ann,
Your Food Chain image is stunning, but alas, we are not comfortable providing a definitive identification, but your individual does resemble several orange
Neoscona crucifera individuals pictured on BugGuide.

Thanks for trying to identify this spider. Sometimes I wish these guys came with name tags! J
Ann Mathews

Letter 18 – Mosaic Darner from Canada

 

Subject:  mystery Dragonfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwestern Ontario, Canada
Date: 12/10/2018
Time: 08:48 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Trying to get ID for this dragonfly
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks, Alison

Mosaic Darner

Dear Alison,
How unusual to see this magnificent Dragonfly and blossoms so late in the season in Ontario.  We can’t provide you with an exact species, but we believe this is one of the Mosaic Darners in the genus
Aeshna which is pictured on BugGuide.  Many species in the genus are quite similar looking.

Thank you!  I’m sorry that maybe I didn’t say that the photo was taken on Sept 12 ’18 .
AG

Letter 19 – NEW TAG Gems From Our Archives: Ten Years Ago Today

 

Mating Green Darners originally published July 25, 2007.
We really love this image, the type of image that inspired us to create the Bug Love tag long ago.

 

Hi! A friend of mine posted a link to this site in his blog and I fell in love with it instantly. I have some pictures of dragonflies I thought you might like, but I don’t know what kind they are. The one on my hand I found outside my front door, dead. =C The ones in the water I patiently followed around in the John Martin Reservoir until I could get close enough to capture their mating, and the one in the grass was one of hundreds that were flying around the city park. All the pics were taken in South Eastern Colorado. Thanks for your awsome site!

Dear Mysterious Photographer of Dragonflies
We really love your image of Mating Green Darners,
Anax junius. We have written several times about this mating position and the male’s anal claspers. What is really great is that you have captured the female depositing eggs.

 

Letter 20 – Needham's Skimmer

 

Dragonfly/skimmer?
Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 10:33 AM
Took these photos at Jamestown settlement this summer. Gorgeous dragonfly. Most dragonflies I see in Ohio don’t have this color. Wondering what this guy’s name is. Thanks for all the info and posts. I really enjoy visiting the website and learning new things about bugs.
CuriousinOhio
Jamestown, Virginia

Skimmer Dragonfly
Skimmer Dragonfly

Hi Curious,
We believe this is a Needham’s Skimmer, Libellula needhami, which can be found on BugGuide, but we wouldn’t rule out the possibility of it being the similar Golden Winged Skimmer, Libellula auripennis.

Letter 21 – Neon Skimmer

 

Neon skimmer (I think…)
Here are a couple of shots I got of what I think I’ve identified as a Neon Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula croceipennis ). These were shot in Austin, Texas in late August; it was perched on the antenna on my wife’s car. I didn’t see it on your site, and don’t know if you want to include it, but here are the shots. I was particularly intrigued by the connective tissues visible between the head and thorax in one of the shots. The danged things are so quick, and so constantly in motion, that I was pretty jazzed to get a few pictures of this one.
Glen Morehead
Austin, TX

Hi Glen,
We checked on this site and we agree with your assessment that this is a Neon Skimmer.

Letter 22 – Painted Skimmer, NOT Twelve Spot Skimmer

 

Another Dragonfly
Hi,
Can you help identify this Dragonfly?
Christian

Hi Christian,
This is a female Twelve Spot Skimmer, Libellula pulchella. The male has whitish areas between spots and the females wings are clear between spots. It ranges over most of the U.S. and often rests on lily pads and vegetation overhanging the water.

Update (01/29/2006)
odonata
Hi, my name is Larry Hamrin. While researching dragonflies, I came across your site. I don’t consider myself an expert at identifying dragonflies, but I would like to comment on some of the dragonflies on your website. There is a dragonfly you identify as a 12 spotted skimmer. This does not look like any 12 spot I’ve ever seen, or can find on other websites. The amber coloration and spot pattern at the base of the wings are not consistent with other photos I’ve seen. Don’t know what it is but here is one I photographed. The female 12 spot and the female common whitetail are often confused.
Thank you for your time
Larry Hamrin

Correction: Sat, Feb 21, 2009 at 3:23 AM
Good morning,
If I may, as Larry pointed it, 12 spotted skimmer doesnt have amber patches on the wings.
This one is a Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata).
I hope this helps,
Renaud, Switzerland

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    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.

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6 thoughts on “How to Attract Dragonflies: Simple Tips for a Buzzing Backyard”

  1. Good morning,

    If I may, as Larry pointed it, 12 spotted skimmer doesnt have amber patches on the wings.
    This one is a Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata).
    I hope this helps,
    Renaud, Switzerland

    Reply
  2. Good morning,

    The big hungry one is the apt named Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus), for which other dragonflies as big as that unidentified Darner is just a snack.

    Renaud, Switzerland

    Reply
  3. Hi,

    You are absolutly right, this is indeed a part a the abdomen of a female Cordulegaster boltonii. That kind of ‘blade’ at the end is the ovipositor. The female lays eggs by flying repetidly up and down in a upstanding position and sticks eggs into the mud of the riverbank with the ovipositor.

    Reply
  4. Thanks, I was also looking for the same thing as i found this yesterday here near my house and quite surprised to see a dragonfly like insect with clubbed antenna

    Reply

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