Posts Tagged: butterflies
The purple trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is a butterfly magnet.
In our yard, it draws gulf fritillaries, Western tiger swallowtails, cabbage whites, and fiery skippers.
Lately, fiery skippers (Hylephila phyleus) are the main draw. It's a delight to see them fluttering over the blossoms and then touching down for a sip of nectar.
Or chasing one another.
This species is California's most urban butterfly, says butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of ecology and evolution at the University of California, Davis. It's "almost limited to places where people mow lawns," he says on his popular website, Art's Butterfly World.
"Its range extends to Argentina and Chile and it belongs to a large genus which is otherwise entirely Andean. Its North American range may be quite recent. Here in California, the oldest Bay Area record is only from 1937."
The fiery skipper is attracted to lantana, verbena, zinnias, marigolds, and "in the wild seems quite happy with yellow starthistle," Shapiro says.
The butterfly breeds mostly on bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), native to the Mediterranan region, according to Shapiro.
Last weekend we noticed a courtship in the lantana. A female landed on a blossom and seconds later, a male.
"The male butts her tail with his head," Shapiro told us. One of his master's students described the courtship some 40 years ago.
Soon, more fiery skippers!
Courtship in the lantana: the female is on the left, and the male on the right. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Courtship in the lantana: second photo in a series of four. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Courtship in the lantana: third photo in a series of four. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Courtship in the lantana: fourth photo in a series of four. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days--three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain,” wrote John Keats in Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne.
"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you," wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne
An Irish blessing reads:
"May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond."
From time immortal, we humans have depicted butterflies in our art. There's something about the ballet of butterflies that soothes our mind, brightens our spirit, and captures our soul.
So it is with the talented artists exhibiting their work at McCormack Hall during the five-day Solano County Fair, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo. The fair opens Wednesday, July 31 and ends Sunday, Aug. 4.
Vallejo resident Yoko Warncke cross-stitched butterflies for her needlework exhibit. Another Vallejo resident, Tina Waycie, crafted a paper butterfly and flowers.
Trudy Molina of Fairfield depicted "The Hungry Caterpillar" in a baby quilt. It's a quilt sure to be treasured. It reminds us of the quote by Richard Buckminster Fuller: "There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."
Vallejoan LaQuita Tummings quilted a beautiful bee, dragonfly and ladybug, so spectacular that you just want to sit and study it.
We watched Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of the McCormack Hall building and her adult and youth assistants hang many of the displays. They're involved in the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, throughout the year, but in the summer when the Solano County Fair rolls around, they're at McCormack Hall accepting entries, recording results and displaying the work.
Insect art is just a small part of the displays in McCormack Hall. You'll see photography, collections, table settings, clothing, baked goods, jams and jellies, and even some farm equipment.
It all ties in with the fair theme, "Home Grown Fun."
Gloria Gonzalez (left) of Vallejo, superintendent of McCormack Hall, Solano County Fair, and assistant Iris Mayhew of Vallejo hang a quilt by LaQuita Tummings of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of blue-ribbon quilt by LaQuita Tummings of Vallejo. It features a bee, dragonfly and ladybug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Iris Mayhew of Vallejo, an assistant at McCormack Hall, Solano County Fair, with "The Hungry Caterpillar" quilt by Trudy Molina of Fairfield. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This paper art, of a butterfly and flowers, is the work of Tina Waycie of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
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)