I am in Zone 9b and want to attract butterflies and dragonflies in my backyard.

What can I do and what plants do I need to grow to encourage them to stay around?

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    Dragonflies eat mosquitoes. If you want dragonflies, you'll need to have a good supply of mosquitoes for them to eat; are you sure you want that?
    – Niall C.
    Jun 26 '17 at 17:51
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    @NiallC. are dragonflies helpful around a vegetable garden? If not, I will revise my question but they do look great!
    – JStorage
    Jun 26 '17 at 18:16
  • Hi JStorage! What you need to attract butterflies differs from what's best for dragonflies, so I'd split this question. There are a few questions about butterflies here, but I didn't see anything asking how to build a dragonfly-happy atmosphere. There are lots of resources, like The Dragonfly Website we could use to answer that question, and I think people on the site would like it! Jun 26 '17 at 23:39
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    I did some research and found that dragonflies are beneficial to gardens because they eat insects. However, I don't know if they specifically eat things that threaten vegetables. See this for more information. They need water in which to survive, and they're best environment isn't necessarily adjacent to where your veggie garden would be. Maybe @NiallC. will know more than I do about this. Jun 26 '17 at 23:56

I've always thought of dragonflies as being water-loving - that is where you see them, near rivers and ponds. And their larvae are aquatic.

So you need a pond if you want dragonflies that aren't simply fly-throughs. Our current house has a pond and we get a number of varieties of dragonfly in the summer.

Yes we have mosquitoes, but as far as I can tell they are not from the pond itself, but we're in Texas and they're from the other usual sources (standing water, water trays, etc). We do have quite a few fish in the pond and these appear to keep on top of the mosquito larvae.

Do the fish eat dragonfly larvae? Possibly. Dragonfly larvae are meant to be quite ferocious creatures so they might be able to fight back. I have seen dragonflies lay eggs in the pond, but have yet to see any emerge (perhaps I haven't been looking close enough in the right places).

  • Fish eat dragonfly larva and dragonfly larva eat fish ; depends on sizes. Jun 28 '17 at 1:02
  • That is what I suspected.
    – winwaed
    Jun 28 '17 at 1:05

Attracting and keeping butterflies around depends on two things - the nectar rich plants they like, and the food plants for their larvae. If you just have nectar rich plants they like, then they will visit, but they won't be able to lay eggs unless there are also host plants.Some of those host plants may not be things you want in your garden - nettles are the host plant for Small Tortoiseshell butterfly eggs in the UK, but we don't all have room for a large nettle patch. Milkweed and asters are common host plants for butterfly eggs in the USA, so you might not mind those too much.

That said, here's some info on plants butterflies like - whether all are suitable for your zone you'd need to check http://www.almanac.com/content/plants-attract-butterflies

As for dragonflies, I've never seen those anywhere but over bodies of water, in particular, moving water like streams and rivers. Butterflies, though, also appreciate access to water, but it doesn't mean they won't visit if there is none.

  • Yes our pond has moving water (see my answer below). The moving water also brings birds in. During freezing winter conditions it became a veritable oasis - we kept the pump running so it _the pump) wouldn't freeze.
    – winwaed
    Jun 27 '17 at 16:41

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