Dragonflies are so pretty and seemingly so harmless, . . . . but not if you are a mosquito. What a nice surprise to find that one of a mosquito’s fiercest natural predators is this colorful, graceful insect.

Yet, they are voracious feeders when it comes to mosquitoes. Even better,the adults prey on the flying adult mosquito and the larvae feed on mosquito larvae. The classic two for one special! Like mosquitoes, dragonflies lay their eggs in standing water. When the larvae, known as nymphs, emerge they feed on the mosquito larvae likely to have hatched in the same place. The nymphs, unlike their parents, are anything but attractive. Despite their charming name, they are undistinctive little insects, except for a large beak that they use to consume their prey.

Luckily, the nymphs can remain in the larval stage for up to three years. Mosquito larvae generally reach adulthood in a matter of days. So the nymphs can feed on many generations of mosquito larvae before leaving their watery home.

The adults feed primarily on mosquitoes, gnats and flies. In fact, their common name comes from the fact that they have large, crushing jaws that make them lethal opponents. Many people know them as mosquito hawks because they are such aggressive mosquito predators. And, as a plus, they also dine on many other garden pests that are less than desirable. Not usually classified as a “beneficial insect, they really are a great tool for making your outdoor life easier.

Dragonfly nymphs are commercially available, and while not inexpensive, their population will build over time, if a new batch is added each year. So, the expense is more than justified. And, the nymphs you raise are then available for mating with wild populations.

And, besides being truly beneficial insects, they are fascinating additions to your garden. Dragonflies will give you lots of reasons to find them a great addition to your outdoor living environment. If you decide to invest in dragonfly nymphs, do not place them into water that has been treated with Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits. The nymphs will also feed on the Bti and it will kill them along with the mosquito larvae. Instead, if you choose this route, keep one container just for the nymphs and put the Bti elsewhere.

If you are serious about taking action to get rid of mosquitoes, you should think about adding dragonflies to your mosquito arsenal. Few other mosquito predators are as effective, and you get to enjoy these fascinating gossamer insects in the process