Rasing dragonfly larvae

One has always dreamed about a pet dragonfly, referring to the book Sveriges trollsländor, raising of dragonflies should not be too hard. I decided to make a trial some years ago. I collected a few Aeshna grandis larvae. One of the larvae was rather big and I guessed that it should soon emerge.

I kept my pet larvae in plastic jars filled with water from a stream, for oxygen production I planted Elodea canadensis and Lemna minor. The bottom of my jars were covered with sand and small stones. To feed my larvae I used worms for the large ones, as the worms I found were fairly large I cut them in pieces. My larvae ate with hearty appetite, and I fed them usually every second day.

The larvae need to rest during the winter, in the book I was told to try to keep my jars outdoor during the winter, but they must not freeze! As I did not understand how I should prevent freezing when the temperature was -15 C (5 F) I decided to try to skip the winter rest. Friend of mine, Tobias Ivarsson who also had tried dragonfly raising thought that this might work. Apparently it did not, all my larvae died during the winter.

While catching my larvae I also found an egg-laying Sympetrum striolatum, by plunging her abdomen into a jar of water I could get some of her eggs. I knew that raising dragonflies from eggs was difficult, but I thought it could be nice to try.

The eggs were put into a jar with quite shallow water. While waiting for my eggs to hatch I prepared food for the very small larvae. The receipt was simple: Take a large jar, full of lake water, add some dry grass and a banana skin. Put the jar in a warm place. After about a week this soup smells quite badly, then remove the banana skin and feed the mess with a few drips of milk every day. In this soup a great number of small animals such as Paramoecium sp. lives. As the Paramoecium sp. just live one or two weeks it's important to make new soup every week.

After a few weeks the eggs hatched, my jar was full of very small larvae, almost invisible for the naked eye. Every day I fed the small larvae with one single tea-spoon of the soup. My small larvae grew rapidly and the larvae shed skin. They were now easier to spot, and I saw that I had at least 30 larvae in my jar. Unfortunately this was too many and some time later I had just one quite large larva left. It had eaten all it's brothers and sisters! Some days later it was dead. Probably I had not given it enough food. When the larva have shed skin a few times it needs larger animals for food and I were unable to find such animals. I think I should have tried to use a very fine-meshed net in a small pond to get such food.

As one understand my dragonfly raising was a failure, but it was very interesting to have pet dragonflies, thus I will try again, but I think I have to learn more about raising before I retry. I'm sure that I'm not the only odonatologist who have tried raising, I you have any experiences of dragonfly raising, positive or negative, please send me a mail: petzon@petzon.se, telling me your methods and results. Thus I can learn more.

Page updated June 21 2008
Copyright 2004-2008 Martin Peterson