Soggy end of summer draws dragonflies to landlocked lot

In the Garden with Mr. Bee

October 04, 2011|By Lou

Early in the evening, right in our back yard, about a dozen dragon flies swarmed in a broad circle 10 feet off the ground. The spectacle, one I'd never seen before, reminded me of an air show without the crowds, noise and drama. Curiously, though, our yard is landlocked and nowhere near water.

Water, you see, attracts dragonflies to the flying and ground-dwelling insects upon which they prey. So I suppose that the water-soaked soil, due to recent heavy rains, attracted dragonflies to our property.

In other words, maybe more insects hatched on what otherwise would have been dry and inhospitable soil for pesky insects that require plenty of moisture, such as mosquitoes, gnats, flies, ants and ticks.

I hope they like stink bugs, too!

Since the dragonflies were moving so swiftly — approximately 20 mph — I wasn't able to identify the particular species.

Based upon their flight patterns and their 4-inch-long size, though, they were probably "darners" or "emeralds," species that swarm to feed at this time of year in the early morning and early evening.

In Japan, dragonflies symbolize happiness, and the appearance of dragonflies heralds autumn, a favorite time of year for Japanese gardeners.

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year, too, and I look forward to its colors and cooler temperatures. Now I've added dragonfly air shows to my list of reasons I look forward to fall.

This week in the garden

As the growing season winds down, I've been taking plenty of notes on what's worked and what hasn't worked with regard to my selections and placements of plants.

The main challenge during this growing season was that extremely hot weather was followed by extremely wet weather.

Insulating our annual and perennial plants with extra mulch helped them survive the triple-digit heat wave.

Additionally, making certain their soil drained freely — by adding compost to the soil last fall — kept them upright and prevented their roots from rotting when the soil became soggy.

Incidentally, when specimens I transplant don't survive, they end up in the compost pile. Then I never replace them with the same species.

Curiously, too, a pair of rose bushes failed to bloom, even though the plants themselves appear to be OK. Maybe they'll bloom later this fall, so I won't give up on them just yet.

Lou Boulmetis is a certified master gardener who lives in Littlestown, Pa. Call him at 1-888-727-4287 or e-mail

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