Posts Tagged: Art Shapiro
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)
But they're doing it too well.
The gulf frittillary butterflies (Agraulis vanillae) are mating and depositing their eggs on our passion flower vines--as we want them to do--but complete metamorphosis always seems to be incomplete. It's supposed to be egg, larva (caterpillar), chrysalis, adult.
But it's really egg, caterpillar, scrub jay food.
The ever-present scrub jays nest in our trees and swoop down periodically to feast on the caterpillars. Now that they have many mouths to feed, they seem to be even more vigilant.
But today, as luck would have it, we noticed several caterpillars tucked beneath the leaves.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, monitors the Central Valley butterfly population, including the gulf frits. In the early 1970s, scientists considered the reddish-orange showy butterfly extinct in the Sacramento/Yolo area. However, since 2000, it's been making a comeback.
Like many butterfly/plant enthusiasts, we planted the passion flower fine (tropical genus Passiflora) to attract them. We watch the gulf frits nectar on the nearby lantana and lay their tiny golden eggs on the passion flower vine.
Sadly, we're not the only ones watching them.
Gulf fritillary caterpillar munching away on passion flower leaves. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gulf fritillary caterpillar crawls along a stem. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Two stages of caterpillars. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
That's when butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, will be speak at the Northern California Entomology Society meeting, to be held at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The meeting will begin at 9:15 a.m. with registration for club members and guests, and conclude at approximately 2:30 p.m. The group, which meets three times a year, is comprised of university faculty, researchers, pest abatement professionals, students and other interested persons.
Shapiro will lead off the program at 9:45 a.m. with his talk on “History of the Sacramento Valley Butterfly Fauna.” A noted butterfly expert, he has monitored butterflies for more than 35 years in the Central Valley and maintains Art's Butterfly World website.
Chemical ecologist Steve Seybold of the USDA Forest Service, Davis, and an affiliate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will speak on “Goldspotted Oak Borer in California” at 10:30 a.m.
Following the lunch from noon to 1 p.m., Jason Leathers of Pest Detection/Emergency Projects, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), will cover “Pest Control Approaches and Evaluations on Success of 2012 Insect Eradication Programs in California.”
At 1:45 p.m., Stephen Brown, CDFA, and Anthony Jackson, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA, will discuss “California and Federal Regulations Concerning Importing Living Plant Pests.”
The society meets three times a year: the first Thursday of February at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Sacramento; the first Thursday of May, at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis; and the first Thursday of November in the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District conference room, Concord.
Membership is open to the public; dues are only $10 year. President is Robert Dowell, a staff environmental scientist at CDFA.
More information about the meeting is available from Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Serving as the society’s treasurer, he can be reached at email@example.com or by (530) 752-0472.
Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus, on a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
But such was the case Monday, Jan. 21 for butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.
See, Shapiro sponsors the annual "Beer for a Butterfly" contest to see who can collect the first white cabbage butterfly of the year in the three-county area of Yolo, Solano and Sacramento. A noted butterfly expert, he's been monitoring the butterflies of Central California for more than three decades and maintains a website, Art's Butterfly World.
Shapiro has sponsored the "Beer or a Butterfly" contest since 1972 to draw attention to the first flight of the butterfly. He awards the winner--usually himself!--a pitcher of beer or its equivalent.
This year he netted the first white cabbage butterfly (Pieris rapae) on President Barack Obama's Inauguration Day, Monday, Jan. 21. Perhaps coincidentally, he also caught the first white cabbage fly of 2009 on President Obama's first Inauguration Day--Jan. 20.
“The constitution mandates the swearing-in for Jan. 20, though it does not require Pieris rapae to emerge on that date,” Shapiro quipped.
“Thank you, Mr. President!”
For the record, Shapiro caught the 2013 winner near railroad tracks in West Sacramento, Yolo County, and the 2009 winner near railroad tracks in Davis, also in Yolo County. (Shapiro’s first catch of 2013 was actually on Jan. 1 at the same West Sacramento site, but “it was a slopover from the fall brood.” Thus, he declared the contest still under way.)
Now the contest is over and Shapiro says that since “Pieris rapae is out, I can ‘stand down.’ It’s now officially spring.”
He declared it spring, and so it is.
Now, the big question: Will Professor Shapiro share his beer with the President?
“I'd be delighted to buy Obama a beer," Shapiro said, "but I suspect he has better things to do with his time!”
This is the cabbage white butterfly that Art Shapiro collected on President Obama's Inauguration Day, Jan. 21. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
No sooner had he announced his annual "Beer-for-a-Butterfly" Contest, then he found one. Actually, two.
Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, has sponsored the annual contest since 1972 to draw attention to the butterfly and its first flight. He's been monitoring butterflies for more than three decades.
He awards a pitcher of beer (or its cash equivalent) to the first person who collects the first cabbage white of the year in a three-county area: Yolo, Solano and Sacramento.
Tuesday, Jan. 1 2013 dawned rather cold. Not to worry. That afternoon, at precisely 1:18 p.m., Eureka! Shapiro collected a cabbage white near a railroad embankment in the Yolo County city of West Sacramento and spotted another at the same site.
“At 1:29 p.m., I saw a second rapae there but did not pursue it,” Shapiro said. “I figured that by the time I got near it, it would be somewhere else, so I let it be. The one that I took is unambiguously of the fall brood, based on phenotype--though it appears to have emerged today. Rapae was still flying here Dec. 17 and Dec. 24, so I was not entirely surprised to find it today.”
Of the contest, Shapiro said: “I do not close my beer contest if the fall brood slops over. So the contest is still open and will be until someone gets an actual example of the 2013 brood! Which, I suspect, will not be for 10-14 days...but I'll be looking, especially since the computer models are forecasting the next two weeks ‘dry.’
Shapiro related the details of his find. “Our family traditionally attends a New Year's Day party in Sacramento, regardless of the weather,” Shapiro said. “If the weather is good, I go in the field first--usually to North Sacramento, which is close to the party venue in Boulevard Park. But this year I went to West Sac instead, advisedly, because I was intensely curious whether rapae would indeed be out.”
“The wind was biting and made it feel colder than it was, but West Sac is wind-sheltered (the railroad embankment) and the south-facing slope was 50 degrees when I arrived at 11:45 a.m. It eventually topped out around 55-56 and actually felt warmer."
The cabbage white butterfly inhabits vacant lots, fields and gardens where its host plants, weedy mustards, grow. Shapiro saw some wild radish (Raphanus) in bloom, but no wild mustard (Brassica) in bloom. The first butterfly he saw was a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) flying “from south to north, lickety-split.”
At 1:18 p.m. he spotted a rapae flying rather unsteadily parallel to the service road. “I lost it momentarily, then spotted it body-basking on a wild mustard leaf and caught it easily. It was a male of a typical late-autumn phenotype, heavy black pattern above, underside of hindwing bright yellow with a sprinkling of gray scales.”
“And it was incredibly fresh--the wings seemed soft, and one forewing got outside its corresponding hindwing in the net. This is something that happens occasionally with newly hatched bugs that are not fully ‘hardened’--I was afraid it might break off! I think it must have emerged today, and I got it on its maiden flight."
Shapiro, who usually wins his own contest, snagged the first cabbage white butterfly of 2012 at 11:50 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 8 in West Sacramento. He caught the first cabbage white butterfly of 2011 at 1:21 p.m., Monday, Jan. 31 in Suisun City, Solano County.
Meanwhile, the contest is still under way, pending the declaration of a winner.
The rules state that butterfly must be collected outdoors in one of the three counties and delivered live to the office of the Department of Evolution and Ecology, 2320 Storer Hall, during work hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. All entries must list the exact time, date and location of the capture and the collector’s name, address, phone number and/or email.
“The receptionist will certify that it is alive and refrigerate it,” Shapiro said. “If you collect it on a weekend or holiday, hold it your refrigerator but do not freeze it. A few days in the fridge will not harm it.”
Shapiro, who is in the field more than 200 days a year, has been defeated only three times since 1972. And all were his graduate students, whom he calls “my fiercest competitors.” Adam Porter defeated him in 1983; and Sherri Graves and Rick VanBuskirk each won in the late 1990s.
For more information on the beer-for-a-butterfly contest, contact Art Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org, (530) 752-2176
Close-up of cabbage white butterfly in mid-2012. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)