So now you have a pond. Yea! Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy, balanced habitat for encouraging dragonfly populations.
Before your aquatic plants become established (this usually takes about six months), your pond may experience a greater than normal abundance of algae. You may notice that your pond has a green hue - this is not harmful. The algae population will decrease as the aquatic plants mature. Essentially, aquatic plants will cool the water and use the extra nutrients that are making the algae population increase. If you want to aid the decline of the algal population, you can add floating plants such as duckweed and azolla; these plants will decrease the amount of light available for algal growth.
While you may see dragonflies checking out your pond, you may not witness the development of nymphs to adults within the first year. If your pond is located more than a few miles from the nearest wetland, it may take a bit longer for dragonflies to find your backyard oasis. To expedite the time frame for dragonfly development and reproduction, you may want to incorporate a couple of buckets of water and mud from a nearby pond or wetland. This will seed your pond with naturally-occurring aquatic invertebrates and plants. Do not introduce mud and water from a source that is not adapted to your local conditions or that might introduce non-native or invasive species into your newly created dragonfly pond habitat.
Once dragonflies have found your backyard pond, you may want to place a few stakes and branches at the pond margins. Until your pond landscape has matured, these stakes will provide a surface for nymphs to crawl onto for adult emergence.
As your pond ages, it will fill in with sediment and debris, and may experience excessive plant growth. So a comprehensive cleaning routine every two to three years (preferably in winter when pond inhabitants are dormant) is important to to maintain the overall health of your pond. What to do?
As the dragonfly and other predatory aquatic invertebrate (damselflies, copepods, water bugs, diving beatles) populations increase, they will be your established mosquito control system. If you suspect that you may have a mosquito problem, the first step is to sample your water to determine the presence of mosquito larvae. To manage mosquito issues, you may want to consider installing a small waterfall to increase water movement and discourage mosquito breeding. Experts do not recommend the following:
When the weather is hot, you may need to add water to your pond regularly. You can use collected rain water or water from a hose. If your public water source is chlorinated, allow the chlorine to dissipate by setting out the water buckets for a few days. Just cover your buckets with a fine mesh screen to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs in the water.