Posts Tagged: Art Shapiro
Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, says he's now a "cover boy," too.
Shapiro is featured in the current edition of Sacramento News & Review. The headline: "Butterflyman: Is the Climate Heating Up? A UC Davis Lepitopdera Detective Cracks the Case."
Fact is, Shapiro chases butterfly. It's his passion, pure and simple. He maintains "Art's Butterfly World" website, does nearly year-around field research, and is widely published.
He also has a keen sense of humor. When SN&R reporter Hugh Biggar and photographer Ryan Donahue tagged along with him to Sacramento's Granite Park, Shapiro spotted a male orange sulphur butterfly flying around in the vetch.
"He's probably looking for a mate, and we are not what he has in mind," Shapiro told them, as they moved on.
Shapiro is now pursuing painted ladies.
The Lepitoderan kind.
"I’ve begun receiving inquiries about whether or not to expect a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) migration this spring," he told us last week. "In good years they would already be showing up, but there have been no reports so far anywhere in California, to my knowledge. The phenomenon depends on breeding success in the desert wintering grounds, which in turn depends on the rains producing a good crop of annuals for the larvae to feed on. After good late autumn and December rains, the tap was turned off for seven weeks—just like here—and the early annuals either dried up or froze. There were good rains over the President’s Day weekend—almost 2 inches at Anza-Borrego—which have already triggered another round of germination.
"But is it too little, too late? It all depends on March. 1992 had a very wet March after a dry midwinter. However, the northward migration is controlled by photoperiod (we think), and any butterflies that are around in March will head north rather than try to breed down south. So the timing is dicey. As of now, I would NOT expect a big flight here this spring."
If anyone can find Vanessa cardui, Art Shapiro can.
Orange Sulphur Butterfly
West Coast Lady
Mellow yellow! The butterflies are back!
We spotted a bright yellow butterfly nectaring a bush germander on Feb. 7 in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
He said it "counts as the first Valley record in 2011."
The orange sulphur butterfly, also known as "the alfalfa butterfly," often reaches "very high densities in alfalfa fields in midsummer to autumn," Shapiro says. When the alfalfa is cut, it "may emigrate en masse, even flooding into cities. This is also our most variable butterfly, seasonally and individually."
Its presence on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, probably had something to do with the unseasonable warm weather--or that enticing-- oh, so enticing--bee friendly garden.
It's friendly to other pollinators, too!
Like orange sulphur butterflies...
Shapiro's the professor who sponsors the "beer for butterfly" competition; for 40 years he has issued a call for the first cabbage white butterfly of the year in Yolo, Solano or Sacramento. (He usually wins; he collected the first one of 2011 in Suisun City, Solano County, on Jan. 31.)
Perhaps Professor Shapiro should sponsor a "wine for a butterfly" contest: the first orange sulphur butterfly of the year photographed in the garden receives a....drum roll...bottle of wine. Or, maybe the first to find a yellow-faced bumble bee in the haven could receive...ahem...a jar of honey. And Kool-Aid for the first cuckoo bee!
No matter, it's a treat to find such a glorious butterfly--and so early in the year.
Orange Sulphur Butterfly
Sharing Air Space
Nothing but net? No, no net.
We have a winner in the 40th annual Cabbage White Butterfly Competition, sponsored by butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis. Shapiro traditionally offers a pitcher of beer (or its equivalent) for the first cabbage white of the year collected in Yolo, Solano or Sacramento counties and delivered to the office of the Department of Evolution and Ecology, Storer Hall.
And the winner is...drum roll, please...Art Shapiro. Fact is, he's won the contest every year except for three.
And this year, he caught the prize-winner without a net.
Shapiro nabbed the first cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) of 2011 at 1:21 p.m. today (Monday, Jan. 31) in Suisun City, Solano County. Last year he caught the first one on Jan. 27 in West Sacramento.
Although Suisun City is his oldest sampling site, dating back to 1972, Shapiro does not recall ever finding the first-of-the-year cabbage white there before. Precisely because of that, Shapiro traveled to Suisun at midday Monday without a net.
He saw it, a male, at 1:09 p.m. And he had no net.
“It was taking nectar from flowers of field mustard (Brassica kaber) along a 6-foot-high fence facing the sun,” Shapiro said. “I tried twice to catch it by hand but failed, and it soared over the fence into someone's back yard.”
"But I knew it wasn't as warm on the other side, and there probably wasn't anything in bloom either. So I figured I'd just wait and see if it came back. It did--and I got it on my first try."
Asked how he could catch an active butterfly by hand, Shapiro smiled and said "Experience." A few years ago he caught a very rare all-black mutant of the orange sulphur butterfly the same way.
Shapiro (see his website, http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu) sponsors the annual contest to draw attention to Pieris rapae and its first flight. "I am doing long-term studies of butterfly life cycles and climate," he said. "Such studies are especially important to help us understand biological responses to climate change. The cabbage white is now emerging a week or so earlier on average than it did 30 years ago here."
Shapiro, who is in the field more than 200 days a year, enlists public involvement "because I have that much more confidence that I am tracking the actual seasonality of this common 'bug.'"
Following his find, Shapiro said he took his disappointed grad students out for beer at The Graduate, a local pub, after work. “I usually buy the first pitcher anyway,” he said.
Shapiro has lost only three times in 40 years--and all by his graduate students. Adam Porter found the first cabbage white in 1983; and Sherri Graves and Rick VanBuskirk each claimed the title in the late 1990s.
Interestingly, people contact him as late as June asking if they’ve won.
“No,” he tells them. “Too late.”
Cabbage White Butterfly
The Bohart Museum, located on the University of California, Davis campus at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, is home to more than seven million insect specimens, plus a live “petting zoo” that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
The butterfly specimens range from the big and bold to the small and shy. Of special regional interest is the cabbage white butterfly; a contest is under way to find the 'first of the year" in the three-county area of Yolo, Solano or Sacramento.
The museum’s regular hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It is closed on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
To accommodate families and other area residents who are unable to attend the regular visiting hours, Mondays through Thursdays, the Bohart began offering special weekend hours last year.
Events scheduled this year, in addition to the Jan. 23 opening, are:
Saturday, Feb. 26: “Meet the Beetles,” 1 to 4 p.m.
Sunday, March 13: “The Ants Go Marching On,” 1 to 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 16: “UC Davis Picnic Day,” all day
Saturday, May 7: “Moth-ers Day,” featuring moths, 1 to 4 p.m.
Sunday, June 5: “June Bugs,” 1 to 4 p.m.
Cabbage white butterflies are the focus of Art Shapiro's 40th annual Cabbage White Butterfly Competition, which began Jan. 1, 2011.
Shapiro, a noted butterfly expert and a professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology, sponsors the annual contest to draw attention to Pieris rapae and its first flight. The first person to collect a cabbage white in Yolo, Solano or Sacramento will win a pitcher of beer or the equivalent. So far, no winner.
"I had predicted the first rapae would be between Jan 17 and Jan. 21, based on my own projection of a 3-week January dry spell," Shapiro said today. "The projection was right on, but the bug may well not be out by then."
Shapiro usually wins his own contest, but so far, no cabbage whites. However, he's been finding other members of Lepidoptera. "I did my Gates Canyon site (Vacaville) on Saturday--it was 65F!--and had a male Buckeye and 3 moth species, one being the wonderful BearSphinx, Arctonotus lucidus."
We expect to hear any day now that he's found the first cabbage white.
The R. M. Bohart Museum of Entomology, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is dedicated to teaching, research and service. Founded in 1946 by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart, it houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America.
The Bohart Museum also includes a gift shop, where visitors can purchase t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, note cards, books, posters, insect candy and other gifts. The insect candy includes chocolate-covered ants and crickets.
More information is available on the Bohart website or by contacting Tabatha Yang at email@example.com or (530) 752-9464.
Two Cabbage Whites
Skippers and sedum. Sedum and skippers.
A perfect match. The flower, sedum (family Crassulaceae), and the fiery skipper butterfly (Hylephila phyleus, family Hesperlidae) make a stunning autumn photo.
When late afternoon sun strikes its fighter-jet wings, it glows brilliantly. Move closer and you'll see the skipper sipping nectaring. Move a little more closer and...it's gone.
It does keeps its distance.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, provides comprehensive information on fiery skippers and other butterflies on his website, Art's Butterfly World.
He calls the fiery skipper "California's most urban butterfly, almost limited to places where people mow lawns. 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."
Only 1937? A newcomer, but what a beauty.