About 3012 species of dragonflies were known in 2010; these are classified into 348 genera in 11 families. Dragonflies are found on every continent except Antarctica. In contrast to the damselflies (Zygoptera), which tend to have restricted distributions, some genera and species are found across continents. Dragonflies can be found from sea level up to the mountains, decreasing in species diversity with altitude. Dragonflies as a group occupy a considerable variety of habitats, but many species, and some families, have their own specific environmental requirements. Some species prefer flowing waters, while others prefer standing water.
Dragonflies as pest controllers
Adult dragonflies hunt by using their exceptionally acute eyesight and strong, agile flight. They are almost exclusively carnivorous, eating a wide variety of insects ranging from small midges and mosquitoes to butterflies, moths, damselflies, and smaller dragonflies. A dragonfly may consume as much as a fifth of its body weight in prey per day.
Habitat degradation has reduced dragonfly populations across the world, for example in Japan, where over 60% of it’s wetlands were lost in the 20th century. Due to this, dragonflies now depend largely on rice fields, ponds, and creeks. They feed on pest insects in rice, acting as a natural pest control. They’re nature’s flying pest exterminators, however, should you have a pond or a larger water source in your yard, you might be dealing with a larger swarm of dragonflies, as they prefer a wet environment. The greatest numbers of species are found at sites that offer a wide variety of microhabitats, though dragonflies tend to be much more sensitive to pollution than are damselflies. Many ecological factors affect the distribution of larvae. The acidity of the water, the amount and type of aquatic vegetation, the temperature, and whether the water is stationary or flowing all affect the distribution of Odonata larvae. Some species can tolerate a broad range of conditions while others are very sensitive to their environment.
Avoid having dragonflies as pests
Dragonflies do not infest indoors and therefore would not have any signs of infestation such as droppings like with other pests. They do not affect the interior of your house, but they can sometimes cause damage in the yard, should you have apiaries, as they might hunt and kill the bees, causing loses to your business.
Also, having a large dragonfly population constantly buzzing in your yard or near your pond is not something you would like. They might not be causing any physical damage, but in a large number, they can become a nuisance. To prevent them from gathering in such a large number, you need to ensure that you do not offer them an attractive environment. Make your yard less attractive by reducing the humidity. As females lay their eggs under water and they generally feed on mosquitoes, you will remove their source of food and place of breeding.
If you do not want to remove the water source, regular cleaning will ensure that the dragonfly population it attracts does not spin out of control. By constantly cleaning your pond, you will remove eggs and larvae. Thus, all you have to do is identify the area where dragonflies breed, and remove and replace the water.
You can also reduce the dragonfly population is by reducing the population of insects that they feed on, so care for your plants and flowers, so that other insects do not appear and attract the dragonflies to your yard.
Installing bird feeders also help, as by attracting birds to your yard, you will ensure that they also pray on the dragonflies, thus reducing their number.
However, be sure that you want to get rid of the dragonflies from your vicinity, as they are nature’s most effective insect exterminators, and they might bring your yard more benefits than damage.