DEAR JOAN: Do yellow jackets eat dragonflies, or vice versa?
Can a dragonfly survive without one wing?
Recently when I was at the Lafayette Reservoir I came across a dragonfly flopping on the trail path. At first, I assumed it was dying and its time had come. As I took a closer look, I realized a yellow jacket was on the underbelly of the dragonfly.
I got down on my knees and was able to grab the yellow jacket by the wings, but it clung onto the dragonfly and I saw it was it was stinging it. I pulled hard and the yellow jacket came off. I killed it. I gently picked up the dragonfly and one of its four wings was left behind. I set it on a post to recover.
Do you suspect it was probably too far gone to continue to live?
DEAR AMRON: Dragonflies eat pretty much any insect they can capture, and being extremely adept fliers, that includes insects that we normally give a wide berth to.
Yellow jackets also eat any insect they can capture, but they generally go after crickets, caterpillars and grubs -- the slower bugs.
In this case, I suspect it was the dragonfly that attacked the yellow jacket, and that the yellow jacket was defending itself in the only way it knew how. Unlike bees, yellow jackets can use their stingers repeatedly. It looks like the dragonfly picked the wrong wasp to mess with.
I doubt the dragonfly survived the attack. The repeated stings would be bad enough, but the dragonfly is an aerodynamic wonder, and I doubt it could have flown well, if at all, with a missing wing. It certainly would not be nimble enough to be a good hunter, and perched as it was on a post, it probably became a snack for a passing bird, or friends of the squashed wasp.
I haven't been a big fan of yellow jackets ever since one nailed me while I was gardening, but lately I feel I've misjudged them. They are great garden companions in the spring and early summer, when they feast on insects. You just need to avoid doing anything to get on their wrong side -- not an easy task, to be sure. But with all insects, if they aren't hurting you, let them be.
On Friday, I'm devoting my column to the subject of yellow jackets.
DEAR JOAN: Congratulations on having such wonderful readers who joined together to help save the Eye of Diablo. Here's a haiku I composed, reminiscent of the Gary Bogue days, in honor of the event.
The Beacon shines on
caring readers and others
shine forth with their light
Nona Ming Quong
DEAR NONA: That's a sneaky way to get a haiku back in this space. For readers who may not know, Nona was a regular contributor to Gary Bogue's column. Gary used to publish a little saying or haiku at the start of his column. I get so wrapped up with giving answers that I don't have room for them, but it hasn't stopped Nona from pleading her case.
So, Nona, just for you, and just this once.
Jack London Square will join the East Bay SPCA to find forever homes for dogs, kittens, bunnies, guinea pigs, rats, birds and reptiles from more than 40 East Bay pet adoption agencies.
Mark your calendars for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 13, at Jack London Square, Washington and Embarcadero streets, Oakland and be ready to meet your future buddy.
Joan Morris' column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at email@example.com; or 1700 Cavallo Road, Antioch, CA 94509.