Fly Away

Learn how pretty dragonflies patrol our back yards

7/24

More than ever this summer, small, personal arsenals are appearing on every porch in North Texas. Rows of chemical missiles, contents under pressure, stand ready on every patio table. They're WMDs, all right: weapons of mosquito destruction. There's a blaster of repellent for grown-ups with 35 percent DEET and another, under 10 percent, for the kids. Along with flying insect killer, this cache of defensive weapons is enough to make Dallasites feel safe. Finally safe. Better than aerosol WMDs, though, says Omar Bocanegra, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, are some harmless skeeter-eaters known as dragonflies and damselflies. "They're plentiful here," Bocanegra says, "with more than 80 documented species." They have romantic names, too, such as Blue Dasher, Flame Skimmer and Hyacinth Glider. Bocanegra will bring his lifelong expertise, species from his collection and live examples of the insect's life cycle to a lecture/demonstration workshop at Texas Discovery Gardens in Fair Park on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Bocanegra will also lead a garden walk to identify dragonflies "on the wing." He says there are a growing number of amateur naturalists around town. "People start with bird-watching, then butterfly-watching, and now we're seeing insect-watchers," he says. He'll talk about photographing these beneficial insects, recording sightings and attracting them for maximum mosquito eradication. Don't tell the CIA. Advance registration is required for the Winged Jewels Dragonfly Workshop, so call Texas Discovery Gardens at 214-428-7476. Admission is free for members and $15 otherwise. --Annabelle Massey Helber

Talk Back
Zoo earns its keep
7/24

Ostensibly, the Dallas Zoo's Meet the Keeper Day will give people a chance to learn the answers to such burning questions as "Can animals talk to each other?" and "How do animals know where they're going when they migrate?" But we have a different set of questions we'd like to hear answered. In no particular order: Do you think a 15-foot wall will have a better chance of keeping a gorilla caged than a 12-foot one? Have you ever thought of using other animals as guards, kind of like trusties in a prison? If Jabari could jump a 12-foot wall, do you think he would severely rock the house if he were allowed to enter the NBA slam-dunk contest? This is just a partial list, by the way. Meet the Keeper Day is free with regular admission, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway. Call 214-670-5656. --Zac Crain

 
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