Posts Tagged: butterflies
Bees, butterflies and sunflowers at the California State Fair?
The state fair, which opened July 12 and ends July 28, is a good place to see a bee observation hive, honey bees on sunflowers, carpenter bees on petunias, and butterflies in the Insect Pavilion, aka Bug Barn.
If the purpose of a fair is to educate, inform and entertain, then that's what this fair does. A recent stop at the 160th annual fair provided a glimpse of what's going on in the entomological world--and what shouldn't be going on in the petunia patch.
At the California Foodstyles in the Expo Center, beekeeper Doug Houck of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association and his daughter, Rebekah Hough, urged folks to find the queen bee, worker bees and drones in the bee observation hive. Then the fairgoers sampled the honey.
At the Bug Barn, mounted butterflies drew "oohs" and "ahs." Just a few of the butterflies: Monarchs, Western Tiger Swallowtails, Great Purple Hairstreaks, Dusty-Winged Skippers, Red Admirals, and Painted Ladies. The Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis, home of nearly eight million specimens, provided some of the butterflies.
Outside the Insect Pavilion, a garden thrived with tall-as-an-elephant's-eye sunflowers. Honey bees and sunflower bees buzzed among the heads--sunflower heads and fairgoers' heads.
The most disconcerting scene: teenagers screaming when they heard and saw the female Valley carpenter bees nectaring petunias. "Ick, big black bees!" said one as she quickly ran off.
"Carpenter bees," a middle-aged bystander commented dryly as she sauntered off to see the sturgeon display.
Another teenager approached the petunia patch, and she, too, bolted. "They're going to sting me!" she yelled.
It's rather sad that the first reaction on seeing bees in a flower bed is not "pollinator" or "pretty flowers" or "pink petunias" but "sting."
When did "Big Fun" become "Big Scare?"
Sunflowers grow as high as an elephant's eye at the California State Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beekeeper Doug Houck of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association and his daugher, Rebekah Houck, at the beekeepers' booth in the Expo Center. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Butterfly specimens in the Insect Pavilion. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A female Valley carpenter bee working a petunia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
There's nothing like seeing an admiral at a marina.
That would be the Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, at the Berkeley marina.
It's often very common in the urban Bay Area, says butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis. The Red Admirals often share sites with West Coast Ladies.
"Both breed on the weed Parietaria judaica (Pellitory) there."
We also saw a West Coast Lady, Vanessa annabella, fluttering around the Red Admiral last Saturday.
But it's the other butterflies that Shapiro is concerned about. "At this time of the year, one used to see Great Coppers (Lycaena xanthoides) up the yin-yang on the 'waste ground' across the marina parking lot, between it and the freeway. Since they made it part of Eastshore Park, it seems to be gone. Typical!"
Other "marina fauna" from back when, he says, included Anise Swallowtails and Large Marbles. "The latter seems to be gone too; it's extinct regionally but there is one population I know of near Concord."
A renowned lepidopterist, Shapiro monitors the butterfly population in Central California and posts information on his website, Art's Butterfly World.
He's the author of the book, Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, illustrated by Tim Manolis. "The California Tortoiseshell, West Coast Lady, Red Admiral, and Golden Oak Hairstreak are just a few of the many butterfly species found in the floristically rich San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley regions," Shapiro writes. He covers and identifies more than 130 species in the book.
A West Coast Lady at the Berkeley Marina. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Red Admiral at the Berkeley Marina. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It promises to be a lively discussion.
UC Davis entomologist Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology, will speak on “From Butterflies to Blood Pressure and Beyond: Is It Possible to Get a Drug to the Clinic with a University’s Help?” at a Science Café session set Wednesday, April 3 at 5:30 p.m. in Crepeville, 330 3rd St., Davis.
The session, open to the public and billed as “a conversation with Professor Bruce Hammock,” will be hosted by the UC Davis Division of Math and Physical Sciences. Co-sponsor is the Department of Chemistry. Professor Jared T. Shaw will introduce Hammock.
Said Hammock: “The science is how basic research on insects has led to a drug for blocking hypertension and neuropathic pain. The general discussion is on the difficulties of translating basic science paid for by the taxpayer, into a technology that can actually help the taxpayer.”
Hammock, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty since 1980, holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, and directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Combined Analytical Laboratory.
He is a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of the 2001 UC Davis Faculty Research Lecture Award and the 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching.
Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bruce Hammock in his habitat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're passionate about Passiflora (passion flower vine), you're probably passionate about those Gulf Fritillary butterflies (Agraulis vanillae).
It's November with temperatures in the unseasonal mid-80s, and the butterflies are laying eggs like there's no tomorrow.
From eggs to larvae to chrysalises to adults--what a sight to see.
We watched a caterpillar munch leaves as an ant scooted down to investigate. Then a magnificent adult, its wings fresh and showing no visible signs of predatory bites, fluttered down right in front of us.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, calls these butterflies a "dazzling bit of the New World Tropics."
Indeed they are. Orange never looked so good.
Ant investigates a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, spreads its wings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you head over to the 137th annual Dixon May Fair, the state's oldest continuous fair, you'll see a flurry of butterflies. The fair, located at 655 S. First St., Dixon, opened Thursday, May 10 and continues through Sunday, May 13.
Colorful specimens and butterfly posters from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, grace the Floriculture Building. Over in the Fine Arts and Photography Building and Today's Youth Building, scores of artists--young and young at heart--are displaying images or paintings of butterflies. In the Interior Living Showcase Building, a butterfly necklace sparkles.
The Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility at UC Davis is showcasing a bee observation hive in the Floriculture Building, along with beekeeping equipment, a smoker, and informational posters. Also in the Floriculture Building, you'll see painted bee boxes, decorated with honey bees, from the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
Ethel Calvello of Dixon, a retired teacher who painted the 26-foot-by-4-foot wall mural in the Wine Pavilion (complete with a bumble bee!), also created a ethereal butterfly painting exhibited in the Photography and Fine Arts Building. You can almost hear the wings fluttering.
This butterfly painting, in the Fine Arts and Photography Building is the work of retired teacher Ethel Calvello of Dixon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Butterfly necklace by Marcella Segard of Fairfield is in the Interior Living Showcase Building. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This owl butterfly is from the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)