dragonflies good or bad?

tweedbunnySeptember 6, 2007

I've had two huge orange dragonflies hanging around my yard all summer. I did a little reasearch and everything says they eat mosquitos. Thing is...There aren't mosquitos here! None. Zilch.

What else do dragonflies eat?

I'll let him stay if he's eating my bad bugs (squash, box elder, aphids)

I just don't want him damaging plants or eating beneficial bugs. (Sorry I dont know anything about dragonflies)



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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

If only these amazing predator insects followed the set of rules WE would like them to, lol! But they don't, and that is part of the unique balance.

Dragonflies have to nab their prey out of the air, which is why they are well equipped with strong flying muscles and near 360 degree vision. I've seen them grab bees in mid flight, for example. They can perch with their legs (and grab critters in mid-flight), but cannot walk.

They don't much care who is on the menu, because they will eat almost anything. Voracious would be a good word for these mighty fliers....they need a lot of fuel for those muscles.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 3:02PM
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And did you ever think that the reason you don't see mosquitos is because your dragonflies eat them before they can suck you blood. As Rhizo stated we can't make wildlife do what wildlife does not want to do. If Rhizo will pardon the paraphrase.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 9:33PM
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Elly_NJ(NJ z6)

Dragonflies don't eat plants, only flying insects.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 10:04PM
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Thanks for the info.
These little guys, I've found out, are called Flame Skimmers. I sat and watched them today chase down bugs and eat them. One even sat on my car antennae and took a ride with me down to the mailbox :)

Do they only eat FLYING insects? Or will they spot and eat bugs from the ground? (beetles, ants, etc.)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 12:29AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Their legs are made for grabbing things out of the air and clasping them while flying. They don't walk, so you won't find them searching for or chasing things on the ground.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 3:08PM
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lellie(z9 Anna Maria Island)

I love the dragonflies!
When they're abundant, I know our SW Florida 'bad bug' population is dwindling...Yeah!
They LOVE flying above our pool, sometimes coming within inches of me if I'm on a raft.

Dunno what happened to this poor critter today, but it died slowly as I held it. *sniff

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 9:24PM
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Oooooo nice dragonfly pic! Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 9:13PM
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nestmaster(5b WA-USA)

I've been watching dragonflies lately along the river where we live. They are pretty good at nabbing things in flight and off of plants (such as the tall canary grass here). I've also seen them go after things on rocks and in shorter grass.

Here's one of the more common ones we see...

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 9:45PM
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They are like jewelry in my garden. I have lots, mostly blue, green, some with white.

I sure was scared of them as a kid, thinking they could sting me with those long tails!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 7:20PM
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nestmaster(5b WA-USA)

Speaking of jewelry - here's a Jewelwing Damselfly. We see them only in late spring and early summer and only along the river. Had to get in the water to get good pix of them.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 8:55AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Great photos! Nestmaster, that jewelwing damselfly is gorgeous. How far into the water did you have to go to get a picture like that?

I love seeing the dragon flies in the yard. So many different species and they all have a certain beauty and grace.

Last year I watched a large black dragonfly carry off a Monarch butterfly. Apparently they are a minor predator of the Monarch. I didn't enjoy seeing that, because I grow plants for the butterflies, but it's part of Nature which can be as harsh as it is beautiful. Hopefully the dragonflies are eating lots of mosquitoes too.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 11:33PM
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That's a perfect name for that dragonfly, jewelwing. It actually looks like a beaded bug. But where in the world do they put all that food? It doesn't even look like it has a stomach.

I thought that dragonflies sting. Are they much like bees? They only sting if you bother them?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 10:22PM
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Dragonflies don't have a stinger so they can't sting but large ones will sometimes bite. Here's a link to some very good information.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dragonfiles

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 8:23PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The stomach is divided up into several segments, all in that elongated abdomen.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 4:34PM
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nestmaster(5b WA-USA)

I was up to my armpits taking the damselfly photo. The river is the Little Spokane River. At our place it is only 20 to 30 feet wide and I was in the deepest spot. A fairly tame river although free flowing. It can get to 300 feet wide when it floods - luckily only 20 to 30 feet towards our house and 200+ feet towards the other side of the small valley we live in.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 11:24PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I'm always amazed at how man tries to bend nature to fit his own person desires. Nature knows exactly what its doing........so please just allow it to happen. :)
Nestmaster......great pic. May I ask what kind of camera and lens you used?
I have arthritis and fibromyalgia, and I have a nice camera, but many times, I can't get into the position I need for a great pic! So much is too low down. I'm glad you could get there!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 8:29AM
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mikem58(Z9 CA)

Dragonflies and Damselflies are absolutely essential in a healthy balanced enviornment. We often overlook the importance of them and tend to focus on the "Adults" we see eating small flying insects around our yards. This is only a very small part of this insects role in nature.
The Niad/Nymph stages of these insects...which are aquatic feed on vast numbers of mosquito larvae and other small aquatic insects as well. In turn they become food for trout...bass...etc.
As a Naturalist/Field Biologist (Retired) I can say that if you ever want to know the quality of a stream...river...lake...pond etc....Look first for the Niads/Nymphs of Stone Flys, Mayflies, Dragonflies and Damselflies. If Any of these are present in large numbers your water quality is OK. Lack of these insects means serious water quality issues...pollution etc.
It is true that these insects are not specifically targeting pests in and around our yards but they have a place in the natural system and we should enjoy them as such.
JMO.....Sincerely, Mike

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 1:47AM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

Firstly, I was just getting ready to say hey, I know someone else who can REALLY take pictures of dragonflies--and there you are, Cathy! DO IT DO IT. (she's my camera-slingin' hero)
And then I saw the marvelous jewelwing, courtesy of nestmaster. I must ask, would it be totally ok if I set this as my desktop wallpaper? I'll only do it if it's alright with you, nestmaster. It deserves to be the first thing I see when I log on, though I will have to alternate it with that great lotus pic of yours, Cathy...

Naiads are like the tigers of the stream in my book. Years ago I did some volunteer-type stream monitoring and realized that there are some seriously impressive predators under those rocks and riffles, and they are so easy to overlook.

If I had to pick an insect group (besides the butterflies/moths) which I thought held the prettiest individuals, it would almost be a three-way tie: the dragonflies, the metallic borers, or tiger beetles.
Oh skip it, I can't really choose. There are also those beautiful jumping spiders with the iridescent chelicerae, and dog bane beetles.....
If only I could take pictures like some of you gifted people.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 1:20AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Okay, Okay........I'll do it, but I don't deserve all that praise. I just point and shoot!
I believe this is a twelve-spot skimmer.
All this talk of dragonflies makes me even sadder that summer is over. I have a couple very small watergardens and they loved hanging out there. In late summer, I would see huge numbers of them flying around together. One evening I was watering the garden and a bunch of them showed up, so I sprayed them for awhile. They seemed to enjoy it.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 5:30PM
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nestmaster(5b WA-USA)

catherinet: Jewelwing photo.... I think I used my older 2.6 megapixel Canon ProweShot Pro 90 IS digital camera. It is an earlier model digital camera that has a great lens (big).
dirtgirl: Feel free to do what you wish with any photos I place online. If you'll zap me a note @ fowlplaces.com I'll send you a larger version of the Jewelwing photo. One of these days I'll splurge on a really good camera and 3 or 4 lenses. Right now I just have to get close, have good lighting, a steady hand, and lots of good luck!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 7:58PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

I get damselflies landing on me all the time when we're vacationing in AR. Is it impossible to have them on our property in the middle of town in a small town, population 7550? And if so, what do I need to do? Would a small pond be sufficient?
I don't know what kind these are, but here's a few that are on my hand/arm.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 8:41PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

And here's more of my friends...

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 8:50PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

terry......that's weird......are they mating or what??
Maybe they're drinking the salt from your sweat??
Are you near woods or a stream? Actually, I'm not sure how far they travel.....but I would give a small pond a try. Its fun for many reasons (lotus, lilies, marginals, frogs, snakes, birds, etc., etc.) I live in the woods near a big creek, but my little stocktank watergardens attract thems. I think everyone should have a watergarden. They are sooooooo enjoyable.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 10:30PM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

Hey I remember those shots...we could never really figure out what the 'pinch' was they were giving you, right?
I'm right there with you Cathy, another sign of summer soon to be gone for yet another year.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 10:52PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Yes dirtgirl! I forgot about that. When which ever one is on the bottom and they're mating, the bottom one sticks it's tail down and "feels" around on me and it hurts. Almost like a fly biting you, but not quite so bad.

Cathy, I don't know why they're on me. I just know they like me ;) And yes, they're mating. I'm the only one in my family, and I mean my parents, siblings and family, husband and daughter, that they always land on. Last year in the late summer, I had 2 on me that were mating, and for some reason the top and the bottom were joined all together, so that they formed a heart. My sister was on a float beside me and saw it, but of course we didn't have a camera in the water with us. The picture was taken at Bull Shoals Lake down in AR. Here, there's a creek just outside of town, that runs from the east side of town to the north side of town. A small pond would be all we could handle on such a small lot. We're extending the deck and adding a ramp, so there's a space in between that I think is perfect for a small pond. Hopefully, we can figure out how to make it look like my old water pump is streaming down into a pond, if that makes sense. Or even is you call that thing a water pump..lol. The kind you find outside at old houses where they get their water.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 11:40PM
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will dragonfly's survive in a water feature with a single fish in it? Like a barrel pond with a siamese fighting fish?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 2:00AM
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Love these beautiful creatures

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 11:45AM
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