Insects have survived the test of time, and Dragonflies and Damselflies are no exception. Very little has changed in their evolution over the last 300 million years, and these prehistoric flying insects have certainly seen a few changes!. In the British Isles, there are over 30 species and their breeding habitats range from ponds, lakes, canals, streams, ditches and wet marsh lands, in fact, almost any location that contains water. However robust they are, they tend to favour clean, clear shallow warmer waters as ideal breeding grounds.
As beautiful as Dragonflies and Damselflies are, it’s sad to think the adults only live as long as four weeks and spend 95% of their lives in the Nymph underwater stage, only emerging on hot sunny days when conditions are just right for the newly emerged adult’s wings to dry off in the warm sunshine. They may look beautiful and delicate, but the adults have adapted well over 300 million years to become ferocious predators, eating almost any flying insects that are smaller than themselves, Mosquitoes being one of their favourites. The underwater stage nymphs will also eat from small fish, to baby newts and tadpoles, in fact, almost anything that moves, even pond snails.
However, we must not take sides and choose between the Dragonflies and their prey, as Mother Nature has taken 300 million years in which to get her ecosystems just right! Pond plants play a vital role in encouraging these prehistoric creatures to your pond. As the nymphs favour certain plants on which to emerge onto to take their first breath of fresh air, as we watch them, we must surely find them one of nature’s most stunning flying insects.
Having grown water plants for the last 22 years, I have observed and noted certain shallow and deep water marginal plants that favour the emergent nymphs. For you too to enjoy this beautiful spectical, you will need to choose carefully from the plants listed below. As each require different depths in which to grow, I have therefore linked individual species or cultivars to relevant categories. When all is done and the conditions are just right for hatching and emerging, I hope you to will be able to transcend yourself back in time and appreciate these amazing flying creatures as much as I do.