Pond plants for dragonflies & damselflies

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Pond plants for dragonflies and damselflies:


Best tall stemmed emergent pond plants for dragonflies and damselflies:

Dragonfly become adult:

  • 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 to dry conditions and secure themselves onto the stem of an upright emergent pond plant
  • They push themselves out of their final skin through the slit in the casing behind the head area.
  • They leave the last of their larvae casings abandoned once they have unfurled their wings to fly for the first time.
  • This emerging process often happens early in the morning and can take a couple of hours
  • The adult will bask in the sunshine, gain colour and strength in their wings and is then ready to fly.

This sequence of images 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.

Dragonfly mating rituals:

  • 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 the water.
  • Dragonflies and damselfies can use waterlilies as a perch during mating as long as they remain out of the water.

Dragonflies oviposit (lay) their eggs:

  • Once mating is complete the female will lower her ovipositor down into the water to release her eggs without allowing 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.

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 as a predator eating mosquito larvae and other small creatures until it is time to climb out on the upright emergent pond plants in the last few months of their lives to go through the same cycle as their parents.

For pond plants for dragonflies & damselflies - see below: