Best pond plants for dragonflies and damselflies:
Tall stemmed emergent pond plants for dragonflies and damselflies:
- Water Iris, Lythrum salicaria, Butomus umbellatus, Eriophorum angustifolium Pontederia and Cyperus species growing from pond plant shelves help larvae climb up & out of the water.
- We have a Pond planting collection for dragonflies containing 3 upright plants in 11cm baskets.
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.
- 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.