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Garden Allies: Dragonflies and Damselflies

Articles: Garden Allies: Dragonflies and Damselflies

Within minutes of filling the old cast-iron tub with water, we were watching the aerial antics of several cardinal meadowhawk dragonflies as they swooped and darted about the garden. That is when we realized that one of the unexpected benefits of our tub, which we had sunk in the perennial border to accommodate a few aquatic plants and provide water for wildlife, would be a delightful new entertainment, easily viewed from our patio.

Flame skimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata) Illustration: Craig Latker

We are fortunate in living close to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, but many dragonflies will fly a long distance from permanent water. Damselflies, their more fragile-appearing relatives, are less frequently found far from home along natural watercourses, but some species may be found in gardens with even small water features. Dragonflies (Anisoptera) are heavybodied, large, strong fliers, with wings held flat at rest—the “cargo plane” of the Odonata. Damselflies are slender, weak fliers, with wings generally held over the top of the body at rest; a few, such as forktails (family Ishnurae) and spreadwings (fami...


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