Posts Tagged: UC Davis Arboretum
Are you on a winning streak? Or a losing streak? Or somewhere in between?
The Gray Hairstreak butterfly (Strymon melinus) is always on a streak--a gray streak.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, writes about the Gray Hairstreak on his website, Art's Butterfly World. It's one of the many butterflies in the Central Valley that he's monitored over the past four decades.
It's most common in weedy and disturbed habitats at low elevation, Shapiro says, adding that it's "territorial and a hilltopper in suitable terrain, but does very well in towns and cities in the Central Valley. It is multiple-brooded and has a very long flight season, at sea level from February to November, but rarely seen before June in the mountains where it does not appear able to overwinter."
"Its most frequent hosts in our area are mallows, including the weedy species of Malva; legumes, including Spanish Lotus (Lotus purshianus), bird's-boot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), white clover (Trifolium repens) in lawns, alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and many others;and turkey mullein (Eremocarpus or Croton setigerus, Euphorbiaceae)."
We recently spotted the Gray Hairstreak grabbing some nectar on our guara (Guara lindheimer). Its distinctive orange spot matched perfectly the color of the nearby Mexican sunflower (Tithonia).
Those of us joining naturalist Steve Daubert's butterfly talk and tour at the UC Davis Arboretum last September also spotted a Gray Hairstreak. The good news is that he's giving another "Butterfly Ecology Talk and Walk," sponsored by the UC Davis Arboretum, on Sunday, Sept. 14. It's free and open to the public. Participants will gather at 11 a.m. by the trellis at the California Native Plant GATEway Garden (newly-constructed garden at the Arboretum's east end, just behind the Davis Commons Shopping Center). (See the Arboretum calendar for more information and a map.)
"Last year at the Arboretum Butterfly Walk and Talk we talked about the co-evolution of the butterflies with the flowering plants, starting in the Middle Cretaceous," Daubert told us in an email. "This year we will set the scene farther back into the Mesozoic Era and talk about the origin of the advanced insect orders, including the Lepidoptera (the holometabolous insects). We will also talk about blue colors in the animals. And we will talk about butterfly gardening for folks here in the valley. We will be looking to see members of the five butterfly families commonly found in Davis."
Daubert is a molecular scientist in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology. In addition to writing scientific technical text, he writes short stories, illustrated with his own photographs. He blogs at threadsintheweb.com.
Gray Hairsteak, Strymon melinus, nectaring guara. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bottoms up! Gray Hairstreak sipping nectar from guara. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're thinking about adding more bee friendly plants to your garden but you're concerned about the drought, the UC Davis Arboretum has the answers.
The arboretum will host its public spring clearance plant sale on Saturday, May 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive.
You'll find a large election of Christmas natives and Arboretum All-Stars. (Members of the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and the Davis Botanical Society receive 10 percent off their purchases. And yes, you can join the Friends on May 17.)
One of the plants we like--as do the birds and the bees--is Kniphofia "Christmas Cheer," also known as a red hot poker and torch lily. Ellen Zagory, horticulture director of the Arboretum, describes it as "a torch lily on steriods. It gets big and puts out a large display of showy flowers in winter and long into spring."
Yes, it does.
We remember taking a photo of the Christmas Cheer on Christmas Day in the Arboretum's Storer Garden. The bees didn't know about the winter break. Neither did a finch.
Break? What break?
In a recent newsletter, Zagory wrote about some of the plants that will be available for sale.
“On campus we have fairly heavy soil and water that's high in bicarbonates and boron, so I always think…if it grows well here, it will do even better elsewhere. In light of limited water supplies and rising water prices we need to think even harder about plants that can survive with low or very low quantities of water, but they can still be pretty. You'd never know these were drought-tolerant considering the seasonal impact and drama they provide!”
The Arboretum kindly provides a list of available plants that you can download from its web page.
The bees--and the birds, butterflies and others engaged in animal/plant interactions--will thank you.
A honey bee, loaded with pollen, heads for Kniphofia "Christmas Cheer." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A finch likes the Christmas Cheer, too. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When it ought to be raining, it's raining pink.
They say you can't fool Mother Nature or outsmart Father Time but that's not the case in the UC Davis Arboretum. A red Japanese apricot, Prunus mume "Matsubara red" glows with absolute radiance in the Storer Garden. It's a early bloomer, but this year it's really early due to the springlike temperatures.
We first noticed it blooming Jan. 5. It's still blooming, and honey bees--probably from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road--are all over it.
The flowering apricot bears the name "red Japanese apricot," but its origin is China and Korea. It's been cultivated in Asia for some 500 years.
If you've never been to the Storer Garden, you should go. As it says on the Arboretum website: "The Ruth Risdon Storer Garden is a Valley-wise garden, featuring flowering perennials and small shrubs that are especially well suited to Central Valley gardens, including many Arboretum All-Stars, our recommended plants for Valley-wise gardens. It is designed for year-round color with low water use and low maintenance, and features a demonstration planting of roses and companion plants. Educational exhibits highlight the principles of sustainable gardening. The garden is named for Dr. Ruth Storer, Yolo County’s first pediatrician and an avid gardener."
For most of January, it's been raining pink in the Storer Garden. Now we need the wet stuff.
An Italian bee forages in the red Japanese apricot, Prunus mume "Matsubara red." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee maneuvering on the flowering apricot. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Silver wings glint in the mid-day sun. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Packing yellow pollen, this bee is colony-bound. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sponsored by the UC Davis Arboretum, the free event drew a plethora of butterfly enthusiasts of all ages, plus several canines.
Well, the state insect is the California dogface butterfly! That one, however, isn't found in the Arboretum.
Daubert, a molecular scientist in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, knows his butterflies. He also writes short stories, illustrated with his own photographs. He blogs at threadsintheweb.com.
At the butterfly talk and tour, Daubert discussed the flowers that sustain our native butterflies and the plants that support them.
Daubert encouraged "shout outs" so others would know of the presence of butterflies. The group sighted cabbage white butterflies, alfalfa butterflies and a gray hairstreak. (And a lady beetle, aka ladybug, and aphids.)
Daubert pointed out the milkweed (Monarch's host plant), pipevine (Pipevine Swallowtail's host plant) and scores of other plants that butterflies visit.
Someone found a caterpillar, which Daubert held up for all to see. He identified it as the moth of a caterpillar, an Arctiid.
Elaine Fingerett, academic coordinator, UC Davis Arboretum, said the Arboretum may sponsor another butterfly walk and tour with Steve Daubert in the spring. Stay tuned!
Although the tour participants spotted no Monarchs that morning (it was a little overcast and cool), Steve Daubert did. Following the tour, he saw a "Monarch fly through the Mesozoic Redwood Grove, moving due southwest."
Steve Daubert checks out the caterpillar of a moth, an Arctiid. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Tour guide Steve Daubert (center, in black t-shirt) talks butterflies. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Tour group, partially shown here, proved very attentive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
You'll want to join the Butterfly Ecology Talk and Tour presented by naturalist Steve Daubert.
Daubert, a molecular scientist in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, not only writes scientific technical text, but he also writes short stories, illustrated with his own photographs. He blogs at threadsintheweb.com.
The free butterfly tour around campus, sponsored by the UC Arboretum, is set for 11 a.m. to 12:30. He'll discuss the "flowers that sustain our native butterflies and the plants that support these larval stages," according to Arboretum officials.
The participants will meet on the Wyatt Deck at the Arboretum. All ages are welcome. No reservations are required. (See maps)
"I would hope we see at least tiger and pipevine swallowtails, field and duskywing skippers, gray hairstreak, alfalfa sulfur and cabbage white--and when anything else floats by, we will be ready," Daubert told us.
Daubert recently published a 200-page book, The Shark and the Jellyfish: More Stories in Natural History, which a critic says "presents 26 gripping new stories in a sequel to his acclaimed earlier natural history anthology," Threads from the Web of Life: Stories in Natural History.
Daubert "teaches by drawing you into the drama, excitement and beauty of nature," commented Don Glass, host of the National Public Radio-syndicated program, "A Moment of Science." (Vanderbilt University Press, July 2009)
On his website, Daubert writes: "There are countless stories out there in the wild world. They bubble up from the middle of the ocean or from a shady streamside eddy—from anywhere you stop to appreciate the natural out-doors. Those ideas grow and fuse; they evolve when viewed from each other’s perspective. Sometimes they present themselves as narratives that demand to be written down and explored further. Such as the spontaneous inspiration for the tales written on this site.”
Daubert describes himself as a “writer of short stories in ecology, geology, astronomy—topics from the natural world.” Read more about him here.
Meanwhile, check out his stunning photograph of the variable checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas chalcedona). That alone will draw you into his world of "spontaneous inspiration."
This photo, by Stephen Daubert, is of a variable checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona).
Participants on the Sept. 29 tour may be able to see an alfalfa sulfur butterfly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)