Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cross Pollination at UC Botanical Garden

On Sunday, Jessica and I had a table at the Cross Pollination Event at the UC Botanical Garden. The day was gray and only the most avid gardeners came, but it was nice that way. I gave a talk about butterfly gardening which was well attended. They laughed at my jokes, which made me feel like a good speaker. Friends of Five Creeks ( asked me to speak at one of their meetings. I was flattered. Jessica was great and I was so thankful to have her help and her company. She came to my house afterward for a cup of tea and a lemon bar. It was the perfect end to a lovely day.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Another Butterfly Presentation

That is Emerson Elementary School on the left, now over 100 years old! I did two butterfly presentations there last week. As usual, the kids really enjoyed seeing the live specimens. What was unusual is that I brought an adult, a live luna, for them to look at. "Is it real?" many asked. Yes, it is real. "Is it alive?" was the other question. Yes, it is a moth, it rests during the day and flies at night. It did look like a beautiful piece of art, but it was far more beautiful than any art I have ever seen.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I've been raising lunas this summer. I know you have seen them on TV in that ad for the sleep aid, Lunesta. I know why they chose lunas. They are night-flying. But more than that they are beautiful in a calm peaceful way.
I have raised them before, and when a friend told me she wanted caterpillars, I went on the internet to find a livestock provider. I paid for about a dozen eggs, and they arrived in due time. I gave some eggs to friends, so I didn't have too many to raise. Big green caterpillars that like to eat liquidamber. They like other trees, too, but I can't remember which ones.
So of course when the adults emerged, I had to let them mate and lay eggs. Except then I had hundreds of mouths to feed. I want to say thank you to all the neighbors whose leaves I appropriated. As a result, I had another successful generation.
I thought the cocoons would overwinter, and the adults would emerge in the spring. I was stunned to see adults had emerged on the evening of September 13. I gasped! On no, thousands of mouths to feed! I decided that I just couldn't do it, since the trees would be getting fall colors and losing their leaves soon. I can't release them, since they are not native here. And I can't let them flap themselves to death in the house. So I am putting them in the freezer. It is hard, but I think it is the best solution, and I will have beautiful specimens for years to come. But I think next time I will find a native moth to rear.