DEAR JOAN: It’s amazing what you can discover in your own backyard if you just look around. I just happened to see a silvery flash as I was looking out to our backyard this morning, so I investigated and saw this large dragonfly.
The sun had reflected from his fluttering wings as he landed on our jade plant. I was lucky enough to get a nice photo showing his wings.
I estimate that his wingspread is about 3½ inches wide. Can you identify it? I assume that there are more than one type of dragonfly in our area. What a beautiful creature!
Phil and Pat DiGirolamo, Livermore
DEAR PHIL AND PAT: Exploring our own backyards can produce a lot of excitement.
After consulting some insect experts, it appears your very cool visitor is a darner dragonfly, probably a blue-eyed darner even though the eyes and head don’t appear very blue in the photo.
It’s a beautiful insect, whatever its official species is.
The California and blue-eyed darners are the first to make a spring appearance in the Bay Area. They also are among the larger dragonflies.
Despite its resemblance to a stained glass masterpiece, the darners are not considered rare. They’re common throughout much of the country, as well as the Bay Area. They eat insects, which they pluck from the air as they fly.
You’ll usually find them near water as that’s where the female lays her eggs among water plants and on floating stems and twigs. She lays her eggs below the surface, as well as on top.
DEAR JOAN: Some quick advice please. We have a beautiful dove nesting in our thriving spider plant outside our kitchen window. I do not have a clue as to the best thing to do in this situation.
I guess I have two choices — either let my plant die or shoo them off. I really don’t want to do that, so I guess killing the plant is my only option as I can’t water it with them in there, right? Please advise.
Gina, Bay Area
DEAR GINA: Actually, neither of those choices are options.
If a bird already has established a nest, even if she hasn’t laid eggs in it yet, legally you can’t destroy or disturb the nest, nor harass the birds — not that I think you were considering doing that.
The birds — both mom and pop — will incubate the eggs for about two weeks, and then the squabs will stay in the nest for another two weeks or so before flying off on their own. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, although some squabs have more difficulty leaving their parents and can linger a bit.
As your spider plant is healthy, it can probably stand going without water for that long, however, if you are careful you can add water slowly, avoiding the nest and babies. Mom or dad might fly off, but they’ll come back.
Once the babies have left the nest, act quickly to remove it and take the plant inside for a while. Mourning doves can have up to six broods a year and they might be tempted to reuse the nest.
To encourage them to find other accommodations, try putting up a nest for them by cutting some hardware cloth into a 12-inch diameter circle, then cutting a narrow wedge out of it to create a cone. Hang it near where the spider plant lived.
What was that dazzling insect visiting a Livermore yard?