Gardens can be an oasis for dragonflies. Half of Britain's ponds were lost in the 20th century but a recent revival led to a 12.5% increase in the number of ponds between 1998 to 2007. All but five of the regularly breeding species of dragonfly and damselfly in Britain are known to have bred in ponds, with 17 species considered to be widespread breeding species in garden ponds and a further 8 breeding in garden ponds more rarely. Even a small pond can harbour dragonflies, with species such as Southern Hawker managing to exist in surprisingly high numbers in small garden ponds. There are also a number of other things you can do to create a dragonfly haven in your garden, so get those gardening gloves on and get started!
Dig a Pond
Garden ponds come in all shapes and sizes and can be made in a great variety of ways. Large or small, your pond can support dragonflies. Having a dragonfly pond in your garden will open up a world of fascination and magic which you never knew existed! You will be able to peer into the watery depths to catch a glimpse of the larval dragonfly hunting its prey. You can witness up close the incredible phenomenon of dragonfly emergence, when the adult bursts from the larval skin. And through summer, you can watch males displaying and taking part in territorial fights, while also quietly observing the female dragonfly's secretive egg-laying behaviour. As a starter guide, take a look at our 'Brief Guide to Garden Ponds' and for in-depth help on digging and maintaining a garden pond for dragonflies, check out our 'Dig a Pond for Dragonflies' booklet and 'How to Manage your Pond' booklet.
(photo right, a Southern Hawker emerging: Jill Bailey)
Dragonfly Friendly Gardens
There are a number of other things you can do to make your garden a useful stop-off site for dragonflies. When dragonflies first emerge as adults, they leave the pond to mature before engaging in breeding behaviour. At this time they need somewhere sunny and insect-rich to feed and rest. Dragonflies also need roosting and feeding sites for use overnight and for mature adults to use while they are not breeding. You can provide a dragonfly with all these things in your garden by planting plenty of insect friendly plants as well as warm basking sites, such as south facing rocks and walls. Hedges and shrubs for roosting may also attract dragonflies to your garden. For more help on creating the perfect garden for dragonflies, you can by 'The Dragonfly Friendly Gardener' by Ruary Mackenzie Dodds in the BDS shop now.
(photo right, a Southern Hawker in flight: Paul Ritchie)
Identifying the Dragonflies in your Garden
When the dragonflies start arriving in your garden, use our spotters guides to dragonflies and damselflies of the garden to find out which species you have! And if you can't find your species on here, try our ID help guide. We also have a range of fantastic dragonfly ID books in the BDS shop.
(Photo right: an Emperor Dragonfly egg laying into a garden pond: Gordon Gray)