Dreading the mosquito bites this summer? You’re not alone. Accidentally attracting mosquitoes is more than just a deciding factor for whether or not to invest in a backyard pond. These days, mosquito bites, regardless of where you are in the world, can be a danger to your health.
Illnesses Transmitted through Mosquito Bites
Zika virus: Mosquitoes carrying Zika usually bite during the day. This is one of the reasons it’s important to protect yourself from mosquitoes all day long, not just in the evenings. Symptoms of Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes.
West Nile virus: 1 in 5 infected people will develop fever and other symptoms, and about 1 in 150 infected people will become seriously ill.
Chikungunya virus: Chikungunya cases have been documented in the Americas since 2013. Symptoms include fever, joint pain, headache, muscle aches, and rash. While most people will recover in about a week, joint pain can last for several months.
Dengue: Approximately 400 million people get infected with dengue each year. 1 in 4 infected people will become sick from the infection. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, rash, and aches and pains, and typically last two to seven days.
Malaria: There are on average 1,700 documented malaria cases in the USA every year. Symptoms include fever, chills, and flu-symptoms. Malaria can cause severe complications, which can be deadly if left untreated.
Do More to Prevent Mosquito Bites
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your risk of mosquito bites this season apart from using DEET products daily and lighting insect-repellent candles, Mother Nature has a solution: dragonflies!
Both larva dragonflies and adult dragonflies prey on mosquitos. A 2013 study revealed that dragonfly populations could help to control mosquito populations naturally.
A Dragonfly’s Ideal Home
Various species of dragonflies thrive in many parts of the world.
During the early stages of their life cycle, they live by small streams and ponds. As adults, they can travel far from their homes and often hunt in open air.
Some dragonfly species winter in the water as nymphs, but others migrate south to warmer temperatures. Dragonflies can’t fly below temperatures of about 65 F. They live for several months, and in optimal conditions, a few years.
Their natural predators include large spiders, insect-eating birds, and frogs. Dragonflies are carnivores, and their diet mainly consists of mosquitoes, flies, and other small flying insects. (Not to worry, they don’t bite or in any way harm humans.)
Building a Dragonfly-Friendly Garden
The key ingredients to a dragonfly-friendly environment is a freshwater pool (such as a pond- but you can get creative!) and a variety of plants with several heights.
Your freshwater source should provide enough shelter around its perimeter to protect young dragonflies from the eyes of predators like birds. You should also avoid keeping frogs there.
While it’s best to allow native plants to grow in your yard, anecdotally, these plants work best to attract dragonflies:
- black eyed susan
- swamp milkweed
- joe pye weed
- meadow sage
- white yarrow
- wild celery
- water horsetail
- water lily
- dwarf Sagittaria
- yarrow white wildflower
Disclaimer: Any reference in this article to any person, or organization, or activities, products, or services related to such person or organization, or any linkages from this web site to the web site of another party, do not constitute or imply the endorsement, recommendation, or favoring of The Hearty Soul.
- “How to create a dragonfly garden”, MNN.
- “14 Fun Facts About Dragonflies”, Smithsonian.
- “10 Plants That Attract Dragonflies for Mosquito Control”, Live Love Fruit.
- “Influence of dragonfly larvae on mosquito development and survival”, Cary Institute.
- “Mosquito-Borne Diseases”, CDC.
- “West Nile Virus”, CDC.
- “Zika Virus”, CDC.
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