Worldwide except in Arctic environments
These beautiful insects are often seen darting through the garden on warm summer days, stopping to rest on flowers or branches. Adult dragonflies are often short-lived (2 – 5 weeks), have long elongated bodies, often brightly coloured, and two pairs of large transparent wings that lay horizontally when at rest. They are most common near water, because dragonfly larvae (nymphs) are aquatic and, depending on species, can spend 1 to 5 years as nymphs before developing into adults. The larvae are usually grey or brown in colour, have six legs and a hinged jaw that they can rapidly shoot forwards to catch prey.
Dragonflies are extremely acrobatic and agile fliers and are good at catching many different species of flying insects. Although this can include beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies, the majority of their prey consists of flies, gnats and mosquitoes.
Food and Habitat:
Adult dragonflies eat a wide range of mainly flying insects that are usually caught in the air, or ambushed as they fly past. The larvae consume numerous small creatures that live in still or slow-running water, including small fish and tadpoles. They are found in damp areas near to ponds, rivers and streams, although adults will fly to drier locations to feed for a few days during the summer.
Plant a diverse range of flowering plants to attract flying insects that dragonflies will hunt. A small to medium sized pond will also help to attract dragonflies to a garden.