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6 Best Tips On How to Attract Damselflies

  • Animal
Best Tips On How to Attract Damselflies

They’re delicate looking insects with long thin wings — that make them resemble a winged moth or butterfly. Their bodies are also slightly lighter and more slender compared to other flying insects like mosquitoes or gnats.

But despite their diminutive size, they can be very aggressive when it comes to mating. In fact, the female will fight off any male who tries to mate with her while she is carrying eggs in order to protect those eggs from being fertilized by multiple males. And if you’re lucky enough to see one of these tiny fighters take flight, its characteristic “drumming” sound might help identify your new friend as an adult damselfly.

While damselflies are abundant in ponds and lakes across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa, there are several species found only in specific parts of this world. The two most widespread varieties in North America include the American Odonata which has 30 known species and the Eastern Darnelinae which includes four different subspecies. Other less-common but equally interesting species include the Giant Mountain Devil Mayfly, the California Foliage Fly and the Pacific Coast Marbled Crabspider.

There are many factors that influence where damselflies live and breed. Some of the major ones include vegetation type, climate conditions, altitude, soil composition, amount of rainfall, the presence of food resources and predators. But before we dive into how to attract damselflies, let’s first look at what makes these elusive creatures tick.

1) Plants That Attract Damselflies

Plants That Attract Damselflies
Plants That Attract Damselflies

Plant life is essential for attracting damselflies because many of these insect species feed on plants using special mouth appendages called stylets. Depending on the plant variety, these stylets may appear attached directly to the leaves or stems of aquatic plants such as cattails, reeds and rushes. Or, they could perch themselves onto branches or foliage higher up on trees, shrubs and flowers. A few of the better-known species include the Black Pondhawk, Blue-banded Spleenwing, Greenish Grasshopper Prawn and Great Spangled Cloudtail.

The best way to find out about local breeding sites and seasonal activity patterns is through talking to experts in natural history museums, zoos, research institutions and libraries. You should also check online guides, books and forums devoted specifically to observing and identifying various species of damselflies.

For example, the National Wildlife Federation offers detailed information about over 100 different species of damselflies. If you want to know everything there is to know about North American Odonata, visit the website of the International Society of Insect Morphologists. This site describes all aspects related to studying Odonata including collecting specimens and keeping track of population trends. There are even some great apps available to aid with identification.

One app designed especially for North American Odonate enthusiasts is titled “Odonates,” produced by the University of Maryland. It allows users to snap photos of the bugs they encounter so researchers can identify them later. Another excellent tool for finding local damselflier hotspots is Google Earth. Just zoom in close enough and you’ll likely spot some locals nearby.

If you’ve got a garden pond or backyard pool, you can use a small net to scoop up some aquatic plants and examine them under magnification. Look for white spots, pale green dots or dark brown blotches on each leaf. These are often indicative of living larvae. Also pay attention to the color of the plant itself since certain colors are preferred by particular species. Certain species prefer red algae, yellow flowering rush, blue-green algae, purple loosestrife or broadleaf lettuce among others.

2) Water types That Attract Damselflies

What attract Damselflies

Water is just as important to attracting damselflies as vegetation is. Different species of damselflies tend to favor specific kinds of water. They thrive well around fast moving streams, shallow rivers, large lakes, saltwater pools, etc. Two popular varieties worth mentioning here are the Southern Pine Lake Trout and the Rainbow Valley Spreadwing. The former is native to northern New England whereas the latter prefers southern Ontario areas.

In general, damselflies do not need a lot of depth to survive. However, they don’t usually hang out too far below the surface either. Many species can still fly away after emerging completely out of the water. So if you have a deep body of water surrounded by dense forest cover, chances are good that you won’t ever catch sight of these insects. On the other hand, if you own a smaller lake or river without surrounding tree line, you have a pretty high chance of seeing a damselfly during every season.

3) Mosquito

Mosquitos bites are no fun. Not only do they carry disease causing pathogens, but they irritate sensitive skin and leave nasty welts behind. Most people try to avoid standing water altogether due to the risk of mosquitoes laying eggs inside it. But did you know that many species of damselflies actually love stagnant waters? Yes! That’s right — they spend time swimming around in muddy puddles or hanging upside down along the edges of slow flowing streams.

One thing to keep in mind though is that these little guys aren’t always visible during times when mosquitoes are present. Sometimes the adults hide underneath the emergent vegetation while the immature stages remain hidden deeper within the mud or sediment. To help increase your odds of spotting them, try setting up a tent above the area where you plan to fish or swim. Since mosquitoes lay eggs in fresh water, having a clear patch of open air overhead helps reduce larva populations.

It isn’t uncommon for damselflies to be mistaken for mosquitoes. When confused for the real deal, the insects will defend themselves aggressively against anyone trying to harm them. Once identified, however, damselflies will gladly pose for pictures with curious children.

4) Vegetation

Water types That Attract Damselflies

Vegetation plays another key role in attracting damselflies. As mentioned previously, many species enjoy spending their days soaking up sunlight on submerged surfaces. Others go for shade hiding beneath floating mats of lily pads, duckweed or underwater grasses. Still others choose to build nests consisting of silken threads woven together between rocks, sticks or twigs.

They typically construct these homes in sheltered places next to larger water flow channels. Female damselflies will sometimes attach their egg cases to the underside of leaves growing beside the nest entrance. Finally, some species will rest atop vegetation patches located further upstream. All of these behaviors serve to shield the young nymphs from hungry birds and bad weather until they become fully developed enough to fend for themselves.

When searching for potential breeding grounds, look for areas rich in moisture and vegetation. Try to locate waterways with plenty of sun exposure and free from obvious debris. Avoid heavily wooded regions unless you’re prepared to hike in search of damselflies. Make sure you stay vigilant throughout the day and night so you can capture images of both adults and nymphs.

5) Dragonflies vs Damselflies

Dragonflies vs Damselflies

As I stated earlier, damselflies are generally much smaller than their distant relatives, the giant dragonflies. Adult damsels are rarely longer than 2 inches, whereas big ol’ dragonflies can grow upwards of 4 feet in length. Despite their slight stature, however, damselflies possess bigger eyes and stronger muscles allowing them to hover in place and zip past objects at speeds reaching 10 miles per hour.

Adult damselflies are active during daylight hours and often seen resting upright on exposed surfaces. While they may seem harmless to humans, they get feisty when approached by anything resembling a threat. Even the slightest disturbance such as brushing up against something while landing or taking flight causes them to attack immediately. During defense mode, their forewings flatten outwards forming a protective screen around the abdomen. Like wasps, damselflies release a stinging chemical weapon whenever attacked. Fortunately, the effect is temporary and doesn’t result in permanent injury.

On the contrary, huge dragonflies are formidable opponents capable of inflicting serious damage to prey that dares enter their airspace. Although similar in appearance to damselflies, dragonflies are distinguished by their wide triangular shaped heads.

Adults can be easily recognized by the prominent pair of long antennae extending downward from their head. At least parthenogenetic females reproduce sexually by depositing eggs on suitable hosts. After hatching, baby dragonflies eat solid foods instead of liquid sustenance provided by nectar.

They eventually undergo metamorphosis into full grown flyers and return back to their parents to continue raising offspring. Male dragonflies are territorial towards other members of the same sex. Females are the opposite, preferring to travel alone and hunt independently. Unlike damselflies, dragonflies never sting victims. Instead, they rely on strong front legs and sharp claws to bite adversaries.

6) Damselflies Food sources

What does a damselfly eat? Well… almost anything really! They consume a vast array of organisms ranging from microscopic crustaceans to medium sized amphibians. Generally speaking, damselflies select their meals based on availability rather than preference. What attracts them to certain locations depends largely upon the region’s prevailing environmental features.

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