Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > August 2014 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Here Dragon, Dragon...

BONNIE'S GARDEN--Here Dragon, Dragon...

Do you find something just the slightest bit magical about Dragonflies?  A lot of people do—hence the preponderance of dragonfly pendants, broaches, earrings, decals, suncatchers, etc.  In medieval Europe, dragonflies were often feared.  Romanian folktales said they were horses, possessed by the devil.  The Welsh called them “Adder’s Servants” and the Portuguese called them “Eye Snatchers.”  In Sweden it was believed that dragonflies stitched up the mouths of children who told lies.  Even in the southern U. S. they are called “Snake Doctors” because of a folk belief that they followed snakes around to tend their wounds.  In the Orient, however, they are symbolic of bravery and speed.  And Native Americans found them symbols of happiness and purity.

Dragonflies are an ancient family of insects.  They were around 300 million years ago.  They were much larger then—with a wingspan the length of your arm.  These days, they range in size from around one to three inches, with tropical species reaching up to six inches.

Adult dragonflies are predators, feeding primarily on mosquitoes, flies, etc.  They are found near water sources since their young are aquatic.  Dragonflies lay eggs on vegetation in or near water.  Once hatched, their larval stage can last for several years.  During this time they feed on small aquatic bugs—including mosquito larvae.

They are excellent flyers—the helicopters of the insect kingdom.  They are able to fly up, down, forward, backward and side to side.  They can even fly upside down, if necessary.  They can hit speeds up to 30 miles per hour.  Their eyes are capable of seeing nearly 360 degrees and they use three-quarters of their brains to interpret what they see.  This makes them fierce and swift predators—even capable of calculating their prey’s speed and direction. They don’t chase their pray, they actually intersect it.  And they’ll catch about 95% of what they set out to get. They have been observed eating up to 30 or more insects in one single feeding. 

To attract dragonflies to your yard, you must have a pond or other stable water source.  Add a few plants.  This will give dragonflies a place to lay eggs as well as provide cover from predators.  Too many plants, however, will block the sun, which dragonflies like.  Shrubs or perennial flowers planted around the water’s edge will also provide cover.  Fish and frogs will eat dragonfly eggs and larvae so, if trying to attract dragonflies, keep fish and frogs out.

Whether you try to attract them or simply enjoy them when they happen by, just wish them well and “bon appetit!” I wish a few more would happen by my yard.  I have a few mosquitoes I’m saving for them…

Posted: 8/12/2014 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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