Posts Tagged: Greg Kareofelas
"Wow! Oh, wow!"
That's what people usually say when they encounter dozens of reddish-orange butterflies at a home on the 1500 block of Claremont Drive in Davis, Calif. The home is behind the Nugget Market on East Covell Boulevard, but the real gold mine, the mother lode, is that Claremont Drive fenceline of passionflower vines.
The passionflower vine (Passiflora) is the host plant for the Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) of the family Nymphalidae and subfamily Heliconiinae. Homeowner Christina Cogdell, professor of architectural and design history in the UC Davis Department of Design, planted the vine several years ago.
Today it's a butterfly fandango.
You'll see butterflies mating. You'll see females laying tiny yellow eggs on the tendrils and leaves. You'll see caterpillars munching on the leaves. You'll see chrysalids dangling from the thin green stems. And then--voila!--newly emerged adults ready to start the life cycle all over again.
Cogdell generously donated some of her caterpillars for a Bohart Museum of Entomology open house last year. The 'cats were a big hit.
Noted butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis who monitors the butterfly populations of Central California and posts the information on his website, has long admired the established population on Claremont Drive, as has naturalist Greg Kareofelas, a volunteer at the Bohart Museum and an avid butterfly aficionado.
Shapiro will tell you that the Gulf Frits first appeared in California in the 1870s in the vicinity of San Diego. In the early 1970s, they were considered extinct in the Sacramento-Davis area, but began making a comeback in 2000. The showy butterfly “apparently bred in the Sacramento area and possibly in Davis in the 1960s, becoming extinct in the early 1970s, then recolonizing again throughout the area since 2000.”
Yes, recolonizing and doing well.
Today Cogdell pointed out a newly emerged Gulf Frit hanging onto its empty chrysalid. Female? Probably. We watched the Grand Little Lady unfold her wings and greet a number of ruggedly handsome males (and some raggedly handsome males, the work of predators). Then she took off, trailed by a fluttering line of males.
Christina Cogdell's Claremont home (note the alliteration!) will soon be for sale (for inquiring minds or lepitopterists who want to know, she's listed it with Claire Black-Slotton, First Street Realty). The professor's home is unique in that it's an architecturally unique urban "farm" home but it's also unique in that it comes complete with a treasure trove of butterflies. A veritable lepidopterist landmark.
If holidays ads can say "Batteries not included," maybe this home listing should say "Butterflies included."
We thought of that today as 50 butterflies gracefully fluttered around us.
Wow! Oh, wow!
A newly emerged Gulf Fritillary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bohart Museum volunteer Greg Kareofelas cradles the newly emerged Gulf Frit. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Newly emerged Gulf Frit flashing its wings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A suitor (left) arrives on the scene. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Two's company, three's a crowd? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Don't you just love those dragonflies?
We watch them circle our fish pond, grab flying insects in mid-air, and then touch down on a bamboo stake in our yard to eat them. Some dragonflies stay for hours; others for what seems like half a second. Some let you walk up to them and touch them. Others are so skittish that they must have once encountered a nasty predator with a bad attitude and a big appetite unfulfilled.
We've observed several different species in our yard (thanks to naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis, for identifying the Sympetrums and the "widow skimmer," Libellula luctosa).
The ones we've photographed:
- Red flame skimmer or firecracker skimmer (Libellula saturata), a common dragonfly of the family Libellulidae, native to western North America.
- Variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum), a dragonfly of the family Libellulidae, native to North America.
- Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa), part of the King Skimmers group of dragonflies that are found throughout much of the United States, except in John Denver territory (The Rockies). You can find them in parts of Canada, including southern Ontario and Quebec.
- Red-veined meadowhawk (Sympetrium madidum), found throughout much of the United States (Alaska, California, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming) and much of Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon)
Can you believe dragonflies were some of the first winged insects that evolved 300 millions years ago? And that the order they belong to, Odonata, means "toothed one" in Greek?
Can you believe that globally, we have more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies?
Can you believe that dragonflies eat only the prey they catch in mid-air? And that they grab them with their feet? Umm, dead bee on the ground? No, thanks!
Can you believe that dragonfly called the globe skinner has the longest migration of any insect—11,000 miles back and forth across the Indian Ocean?
For those and other interesting facts, be sure to read Sarah Zielinski's "14 fun facts about dragonflies" published Oct. 5, 2011 in smithsonian.com
For a close look at some of the Bohart Museum's collection of dragonflies, you can visit the insect museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, from Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. noon, and from noon to 5 p.m. (excluding holidays). Admission is free. You can even buy dragonfly-related items in the gift shop. That would include posters (the work of Greg Kareofelas and Fran Keller) and jewelry.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses nearly eight million insect specimens. And not just dragonflies, bees and butterflies. There are critters you've never seen before. And some, such as the Xerces butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), are extinct.
The Bohart's next weekend open house, the last of the 2013-2014 academic year, is Saturday, July 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. The theme focuses on spiders: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?" It's family-oriented and free and open to the public. (For more information contact Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Red flame skimmer or firecracker skimmer (Libellula saturata). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Red-veined meadowhawk (Sympetrium madidum). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
That's what happened Sunday. A dragonfly--identified by naturalist Greg Kareofelas, volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis as a female Sympetrum madidum--zigzagged into our yard and began catching flies, sweat bees and other soft-bodied insects near our fish pond.
It favored a series of bamboo stakes, installed there just for the dragonflies. It moved from one to another as if trying to decide which one it liked the best.
It appeared to like them all! It stayed for four hours.
This dragonfly, also called a red-veined meadowhawk, belongs to the family Libellulidae, the same family as our favorite red flameskimmers (Libellula saturata).
Most of the dragonflies we've encountered are quite skittish—you can't go within 25 feet before they dart off. Not this one. It allowed us to get within an inch of it. Guess it figured we were no threat. Curious, yes. Predator, no.
Nearby, however, scrub jays nesting in the cherry laurels popped out occasionally to find food for their chirping offspring. Fortunately, Ms. Sympetrum madidum wasn't on the menu.
Red-veined meadowhawk, Sympetrum madidum, perches on a stake. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A different angle of the red-veined meadowhawk. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Front view of the red-veined meadowhawk. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
That would be Agraulis vanillae.
Visitors to the open house saw Gulf Frit eggs, caterpillars, chrysalids and adults.
UC Davis professor Christina Cogdell, who teaches art design and history, loaned some of her Gulf Frit population, as did Bohart volunteer Greg Kareofelas and yours truly. Fortunately, museum officials collected them on a sunny Friday because the Gulf Frits would not have been flying on rainy Saturday.
The Red Barn Nursery, Davis, loaned a potted passionflower vine, which the entomologists decorated with caterpillars. Tabatha Yang, public education coordinator and outreach coordinator, affixed a sign that read "How many caterpillars can you find?"
As one caterpillar crawled up the sign, Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey held up one finger, designating "One!"
As if on a cue, a caterpillar began pupating.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, UC Davis professor of evolution and ecology, stopped by. He had initially planned to go on a butterfly monitoring field trip, but rain dashed his plans.
All in all, it was a Gulf Frit kind of day, despite the downpour.
Seven more weekend open houses are planned throughout the 2013-2014 academic year. The next one, "Beauty and the Beetles," is set from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23 in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. The events are free and open to the public. All ages are welcome.
The museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a "live petting zoo" and a gift shop. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart founded the museum in 1946.
An adult Gulf Fritillary butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, holds up a finger to designate "One caterpillar." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Caterpillar pupating. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hint: It's the state insect.
"What, we have a state insect?" you ask.
Yes, and it's the California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice).
On the monorail, it's an artistic blue and white and it seems to flutter along for the ride. (See what the Monorail Society wrote about it in 1995.) In real life, the male of the species is yellow and black, and the female, predominantly yellow.
Fran Keller, doctoral candidate in entomology at the University of California, Davis, and her colleague, naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology identified the insect on the monorail right away. Several years ago they teamed to create a California dogface butterfly poster, which graces many a classroom, office, and den. The poster is for sale in the Bohart Museum's gift shop on Crocker Lane, UC Davis, or online.
Keller went on to write a children's book, "The Story of the Dogface Butterfly," with watercolor-and-ink illustrations by Laine Bauer, a 2012 graduate of UC Davis. Kareofelas contributed photographs.
Net proceeds from the sale of the 35-page book, also available at the Bohart Museum or online, benefit the insect museum's education, outreach and research programs.
The book tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly, and how schoolchildren became involved in convincing the State Legislature to select the colorful butterfly as the state insect.
Bauer’s illustrations depict the life cycle of this butterfly. As part of their research, Keller, Karofelas and Bauer visited a Placer County habitat of the butterfly last year.
As for the book, “There are also ecology, life cycle, taxonomy and conservation issues presented that are relevant to grades K-6 that can be used in classroom curriculum,” Keller said. In addition, the book includes information on the butterfly’s host plant, false indigo (Amorpha californica).
So, score one for the California State Fair. And score two for the Bohart Museum.
California dogface butterfly is illustrated on the California State Fair monorail. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)