Pond plants for dragonflies & damselflies

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Best pond plants for dragonflies and damselflies:

Tall stemmed emergent pond plants for dragonflies and damselflies:

Watch our video Damselflies and Dragonflies - Larvae & emerging adults

How dragonfly become adults using pond plants:

  • Dragonfly and damselfly larvae need to leave the pond water to emerge as adults.
  • They need to be in dry conditions to open their wings as adults.
  • Larvae climb up & out of the water into dry conditions by climbing up the stem of an upright emergent pond plant.
  • Plant Butomus umbellatus, Cyperus, Iris, Lythrum salicaria Pontederia species on the shallow pond shelves.
  • The larvae will secure itself onto the stem
  • Then they push themselves out of their final larvae casing through the slit behind the head area of the casing.
  • They leave the last of their larvae casings abandoned on the upright pond plant stem.
  • The new adult will bask in the sunshine, gain colour and strength in their wings and is then ready to fly.
  • This emerging process often happens early in the morning and can take a couple of hours.

This sequence of images of a dragonfly larvae on pond plants was taken in our warm exhibit tunnel in late May 2016:

  • Damselfly casings are longer and thinner than dragonfly casings
  • You can still see the 3 gills as a different colour on the tip of the tail of the abandoned damselfly casing below.

Dragonfly & damselfly mating rituals:

Watch our video Damselflies and Dragonflies - Copulatory wheel and ovipositing (egg laying)


  • Adults will fly for a number of weeks once they emerge.
  • They will rest on tall pond plant leaves like this Pontederia stem and bask in the sunshine or swoop over the water in a ritual mating routine in search of a partner.
  • The copulatory wheel of mating takes place using any upright pond plant stems like these Typha or Pontederia species or also on waterlilies.
  • Adult dragonfly or damselflies never fly far from water.
  • Dragonflies and damselflies can use waterlilies as a perch during mating as long as they remain out of the water.

Dragonflies & damselflies oviposit (lay) their eggs using pond plants as support:

  • Once mating is complete the female will lower her ovipositor (tail) down into the water to release her eggs. She never allows her entire body to get wet.
  • Females lay their eggs back into the mud at the edge of the pond or into the water around the marginal pond plants or waterlilies.
  • Dragonflies like a sunny, sheltered pond and adults will fly some distance to colonize a new pond without help from man.

Watch our video Showing a dragonfly laying her eggs on the Nursery:

  • She rests on the waterlily leaves and pushes her tail (ovipositor) down into the water.
  • You can see it pulsing as she pushes out the eggs.
  • She remains for a good minute in the same position and repeatedly lays her eggs into the water.
  • Her wings flutter at times so she can keep her balance and not fall into the water.

Dragonfly larvae:

  • The egg develops into the larvae stage or nymph under the water.
  • They emerge from the egg as tadpoles and moult almost immediately after hatching.
  • A dragonfly catches and eats live prey as a larvae.
  • It moults a further 5–14 times until it becomes full-sized.
  • Dragonfly or damselfly larvae will live beneath the water surface for years eating mosquito larvae and other small creatures.
  • Then it is time to climb out on the upright emergent pond plants.
  • In the last few months of their lives they go through the same cycle as their parents.

For pond plants for dragonflies & damselflies - see below: