Friday, December 5, 2014


Ladybugs are gathering again at the UC Botanical Garden. They do this every fall, and then they disappear. I don't know whether they move on or whether they hide in the duff, but the aggregations only last for a few days, so enjoy them while you can. 

Ladybug have bright colors, which is called warning coloration. Have you ever picked up a beetle and gotten yukky stuff on your fingers? They exude a toxic substance from between their leg joints. Birds usually only eat them once; they remember those bright colors and find something else to eat. 

Ladybugs eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects as both immatures and adults. Sometimes they eat a little pollen or nectar, but they are not a threat to any plant. This particular ladybug, Hippodamia convergens, occurs across the US and into Canada and Mexico. In California, it has a complicated migration pattern, which is described here at this website:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Female Pipevine Swallowtail

I released a Pipevine Swallowtail today. Seems a little late in the season. I would have expected this individual to overwinter as a chrysalis. But no, she emerged. Since they overwinter as chrysalides, she has to lay eggs, and they have to hatch and grow, and pupate, before it get really wintery. I hope they make it!

 I know she is a female because of the brown and black wings. Males have a turquoise sheen on parts of their wings. Her colors are more understated, but lovely.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Butterfly Walk at UC Botanical Garden

Some of the participants in the last butterfly walk of the year. We saw some good stuff!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars

Are starting to spread themselves out. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pipevine Swallowtails Hatched

I love the way they cuddle when young. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Such a lousy photo! Sorry!

Today was the nuptial flight of the termites. First there is rain (just a little in this case) then sun, then the termites come out of the ground,  and fly off to find a mate. 

I always wondered why I never saw any animals taking advantage of this dense display of insect protein packets. Until Today. Today a dragon fly was catching them on the wing. Seems like it would have been so much easier to sit on the ground and eat them. But a dragon fly never does that! It creates a basket with its legs and catches insects in the basket while it flies. 

Did you see the termites today?