Posts Tagged: Painted Lady
What did you do on Black Friday?
Did you spend the night camped out in front of a store? Or did you join the throngs of people who left home in the wee hours of the morning for the doorbuster deals or stayed on your computer for the online onslaughts?
Last year, according to Wikipedia, approximately 141 million U.S. consumers shopped on Black Friday. They spent--are you ready for this?--a total of $57.4 billion, with online sales reaching $1.2 billion.
Not me. It was Butterfly Friday for me. In between working on major projects, I slipped outside occasionally to see the butterflies landing on the purple lantana.
First, a beautiful Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) showed up to gather some nectar. This is a bright reddish-orange butterfly of the family Nymphalidae and subfamily Heliconiinae. Some folks call it "the passion butterfly" as its host plant is Passiflora, the passion flower vine.
Next to show up was a butterfly of the same family, Nymphalidae: a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). Some folks call it the "thistle butterfly" as the thistle is one of its host plants. The Painted Lady reminds me of a calico cat, a skittish calico cat. So many earthy colors, and where one ends, another blends. No fashion designer could replicate those hues!
The Gulf Frit challenged the Painted Lady in a game of "It's-mine; I-was-here-first." The Gulf Frit won but the Painted Lady returned.
Meanwhile, no shopping day for us. No camping out, no charging into stores, no racing for would-be presents.
Nope. Final score: Black Friday: 0. Butterfly Friday: 2.
A Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) nectaring on lantana on Black Friday. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Gulf Fritillary butterfly nectaring on lantana on Black Friday. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
There it was.
A green caterpillar, aka larva, aka worm, occupied a blanket flower (Gaillardia) last Friday morning in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre pollinator garden on Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis.
Soon a honey bee from the nearby Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility landed on it. And then a Painted Lady butterfly, its wings tattered from predatory attacks, joined the duo.
Well, what WAS that green caterpillar?
We asked butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis. "Well, it's a Noctuid (owlet moth family)," he said. "It may be one of the infinite variety of color forms of the tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens, which is common right now--the fine lengthwise striations suggest that--but maybe not."
He suggested we contact his colleague, David Wagner, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut.
"I am guessing that it is either Heliothis virescens as suggested by Art or Helicoverpa zea," Wagner said, looking at the photo. "Both equally probable. The former often favors plants with glandular secretory hairs: Solanaceae, geranium, etc."
According to Wikipedia, the Noctuidae or owlet moths "are a family of robustly build moths that include more than 35,000 known species out of possibly 100,000 total, in more than 4,200 genera."
Noctuidae comprises the largest family in Lepitopdera.
Most fly at night. Many are drawn to sugar and nectar-rich flowers. Some head over to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven.
As for Helicoverpa zea, it's a major agricultural pest. It's known by various names, depending on what it consumes. When it consumes tomatoes, it's a tomato fruitworm. Cotton? Cotton bollworm. Corn? Corn earworm. And the list goes on.
We thought that perhaps a neighboring praying mantis would take a culinary interest in the worm, but not so.
The Noctuid appeared to a landing strip for honey bees and Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui). They kept touching down and pulling up.
As Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology quipped: "If you're in the middle of the road, you're going to get hit."
Buddies? A honey bee edges toward a Noctuid caterpillar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If two is company, is three a crowd? Painted Lady, honey bee and Noctuid caterpillar on blanket flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)