Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ladies on Lavetera Olbia

I took these pics a couple of days ago at the UC Botanical Garden. A few days ago there were many Ladies on this Lavatera. But many were gone by the time I took the pictures. Maybe birds or spiders ate them. Or maybe they wandered and pupated. But they seem to think that this plant is really yummy. I don't know if they are West Coast Ladies or Painted Ladies. But there they are, caterpillars in December in Berkeley. This plant is a seedling of a garden accession, and the horticulturalist was going to remove it, but he decided to wait until the larvae are done feeding. Isn't he sweet?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When I came home today from doing errands, two girls and a grandmother were staring intently at a Gulf Fritillary adult in my front yard. After they showed it to me, I looked for immatures. I had been watching the late season butterflies for the past few days. I found one caterpillar quickly, then they found another. I also showed them the chrysalis. It is a bit small and dark. I hope it is okay.

The caterpillars are on my Passiflora Berkeley. They really seem to like those tender leaves.

The girls go to a local school and where the teachers are raising anise swallowtails in the classroom. Yay for butterfly education!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Butterflies and Water

At Insecta-Palooza next year, the theme is water. That got me to thinking about butterflies and water. Caterpillars don't drink. They get all the liquid they need out of plants they eat. Butterflies are known for drinking nectar from flowers. But they will also sip from urine puddles, rotting fruit, and wet mud. When butterflies gather at wet areas, it is called "puddling." No one knows why they do that. Maybe they need the minerals in the water. Or maybe they need some ballast. But I am thinking of doing a papercraft with butterflies "puddling." Check out my pic. I think it needs a little work. And I still haven't finished the one about things that kill butterflies. I guess I am getting ahead of myself. Oh well...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Two More Butterfly Presentations

Andy and I gave a butterfly presentation for a Merritt College class yesterday. One of the people there, Tora, liked it so much that she asked it to do it over again for her employees. The first picture is some of the people who attended the second class for people who work for the City of Oakland. After the class, we went for a walk in the garden. That is Andy and Kelly under the silk floss tree in full bloom. Kelly works in administration, but she loves raising caterpillars, so she came to the class to learn more. The garden was full of butterflies, including Red Admirables, Cabbage Whites and Monarchs. I got pictures of a skipper, a lady and a checkered skipper. Tora gave Andy some Monarch eggs, so he is going to be rearing for awhile.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Many many trick-or-treaters passed by last night. Some even stopped for candy. I got a picture of these siblings: Spiderman and a butterfly. I don't know why the butterfly costume had a laced bodice, but who cares? At least some kids were dressed up as arthropods. Although most of the wings seemed to be on fairies. Maybe fairies are part insect. Afterall, those wings look more like dragonfly wings than bird wings or bat wings. I'll have to do some research. Another conundrum!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Insecta-Palooza at Sonoma State

Yesterday, I went to an insect fair at Sonoma State. The day started out a bit cold, but it warmed up. Perfect weather!

I learned about how ambrosia beetles made Sudden Oak Death even worse. I met Kathy Biggs, who writes the dragon fly books. I attended a talk by Liam O'brian about Mission Blues. It was a wonderful day.

Frederique Lavoipierre, who organized the event, showed my film, In the Company of Wild Butterflies, and asked me to introduce it. I was honored, of course!

The picture is of a woman who got close up and personal with a walking stick. She said that she is just like a little kid when it comes to insects. I say that people of all ages can enjoy invertebrates. I do!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mylitta Crescent

It was way too hot today, but I went for a walk at the UC Botanical Garden anyway. I saw several Mylitta Crescents. This one was in some asters near the Asian Pool. It was fighting with a bunch of skippers. I don't know why. Maybe there is not enough nectar for everyone. I also saw some sort of Lady in the rose garden, but it flitted away so quickly that I couldn't identify it.

Lousy pictures, I know! Sometimes I think the cooler days are better because the butterflies sit around waiting to warm up. This one was very active. I was lucky to get any pic at all!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Convergent Lady Beetle--Hippodamia convergens

The ladybugs are converging at the UC Botanical Garden. According to what I have read, they are called convergent because the white lines converge on their head (/\). But they also converge with each other over the winter when there are no aphids to eat. Or maybe they aggregate. Or congregate. Whatever! They are gathering. See if you can find a group. Hint: in the California section. Near the bridge.

Read more about them here:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Caterpillar Killer Papercraft-number 1

So, I am working on a new papercraft, about things that kill caterpillars, like wasps, dragonflies, birds, pesticides, snakes, disease, etc. Maybe I should call it enemies of caterpillars. I don't know; just because the caterpillars die doesn't mean that is wrong or bad. I think it is good that caterpillars provide food for birds and other insects. But calling them "killers" sounds so violent. Maybe I will have to come up with some different wording. Maybe something about being part of the food web. Or maybe something about population control. If all the caterpillars lived, we would be overrun with caterpillars!

The first iteration is very simple. Just a caterpillar on a leaf with drawings of things that kill caterpillars around the edge.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Termite Nuptial Flight--Again

I wrote about the termites in October of 2009.

They were doing their thing again today. They kept the cat entertained. I suppose she even ate a few. I wonder if they are tasty.....?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

West Coast Lady at Filoli

We went to Filoli today. The house was lovely, but I couldn't imagine living there. So dark! And heavy!

Many things blooming in the garden, including these orange and yellow flowers (Zinnias?). The butterflies seemed to like this area. There were skippers. And a Monarch that I was too lazy to chase down in the heat. But this West Coast Lady was more accommodating. She was very intent on getting the nectar out of each floret and didn't spook when I tried to take her picture.

Yesterday, on my butterfly walk at the UC Botanical Garden, an American Lady was nectaring on Ironweed near the Crop Garden. I hardly ever see American Ladies, but there is a big section of Pearly Everlasting, their host plant, in the California section, so it isn't surprising. We also saw skippers and Sulfurs. It was a successful fall walk. Next month I lead my last butterfly walk of the year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Geometrid Moth

This moth camouflaged itself on the UC Bot Garden plant deck yesterday. It is almost the same color as the underside of that leaf it is on. I think it looks like a Geometrid, but I could be wrong.

Butterfly walk at the Garden today. I have been seeing sulfurs lately. I hope we find at least one of them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cleyera japonica

The Cleyera is blooming again at the UC Botanical Garden. The tree is in the Asian area near the New World Desert. During the hot days we have been having, the fragrance drifts down Strawberry Creek and perfumes the whole area. So intoxicating!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pipevine and Wasps

My pipevine flowered back in February. Now it has fruit. The fruit is much more symmetrical than the flower. It has ridges all the way around. When it gets ripe it opens and looks like a flower. As soon as it starts to open, the wasps find it and start taking the seeds. I don't know why the wasps like those seeds so much, they they seem to take every last one. Then the fruit shrivels up. I should follow the wasps and find out where they go. They are very active today because it is so hot. Too hot to go chasing wasps!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Collection Papercraft

This craft was easy to create. My graphic artist used a drawing of a butterfly she previously created. Then she adjusted the antennae so they didn't stick out so much; that way the butterflies could be cut out without trying to cut out the antennae separately. Next, she copied about fifteen onto a page. Then she adjusted the sizes and proportions so they all looked a little different. Voila! Done!

Anyone could do a papercraft that looks like a butterfly collection without any pattern at all. Just draw a bunch of butterflies. Cut them out. Fold them in half. Glue them to a piece of paper. Then you have a collection. Or maybe a display. Exhibit? Medley? Whatever!

I was a bit concerned about asking the Butterfly Gardener Magazine to publish this craft because it was about collecting and they are definitely anti-collecting. But, I did a write a nice paragraph about how people USED to collect but now photos and listing of species is the standard way to document what you have seen. Funny thing, they were fine with the craft, but didn't want me to use the word "collection." So I called it a "medley." Maybe "exhibit" or a "display" would have been better words, but I didn't have much time to change my text and didn't think of those words until later.

Taking the photo of the papercraft was the hard part. I wanted shadows to show the 3D quality. But the shadows in this photo are too harsh. Interesting. But harsh. I took about two dozen photos before I got one I really liked. If you want to see it, you will have to join the North American Butterfly Association and get the magazine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

LIfecycle Papercraft Done

I finally got the lifecycle papercraft completely done. This pic was taken before the final details were taken care of and it is on reused paper, but you get the idea. It sort of looks like a crown, but it was designed to sit on a flat surface, not a head. It is a little too small for a head. I think it is simple and clear. Maybe needs a kid to color it, but otherwise, it is brilliant!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Yesterday Andy and I took the menagerie to Green Camp at the UC Botanical Garden. As the kids arrived bit by bit, we showed them the eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises. The first child to arrive (in the striped hoodie) got and explanation of everything in the display. The kids that arrived later got the abbreviated version. They were a bit young to truly appreciate the experience, but they were attentive. The camp counselors and some of the parents got a butterfly education, too. As usual, the cages were masterpieces of design. The last Anise Swallotail caterpillars pupated within hours. I'm glad the kids got to see them.

Then, when we were done, Paul showed up with freshly dug Trilliums and asked us to help plant them. They are all in pots now. I hope they do well. I get worried dealing with such valuable vegetation. The pic is from January when they were in bloom. Now they are dormant.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Strybing 2011

Andy and I went to the Garden Fair at Strybing in San Francisco yesterday. It was overcast and sometimes quite windy. We wore jackets all day!

The guy next to us was selling orchids. Very lovely display, and I think he sold quite a few.

I think this is a wonderful picture of Andy showing a little kid an Anise Swallowtail eggs. Aren't they cute!??!!

Lots of people came by our table. I went over the gulf fritillary life cycle about a million times. This is first time ever that my line failed. Twice! Two people said that they didn't want to see my butterfly egg. How could they??!!

It was rather a smelly day. Across the aisle from us was a guy selling lavender. It was lovely to look at, but the smell was so strong and harsh. Yuck! I don't understand why anybody likes that. Then, later in the day, after I went to bed, a skunk let lose. Double yuck!

But I didn't get a headache from all the "fragrances" so I am happy. I had a great time introducing people to the joys of butterflies. Had a great time talking to Andy and Liz. Very lovely day!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

LIfecycle Papercraft Step 5 and 6

My graphic artist came over today for a consultation. We got several issues worked out. She made the butterfly smaller and added crosshatching to indicate where the sections go together. But then when I cut it out and put it together, the butterfly didn't flop, but the egg and caterpillar overlapped. So she put in a mirror image of the caterpillar and that worked better. She also put the word "liftcycle" on the arrow, which I like much better. I just need a couple of minor tweaks and it will be done.

Friday, July 29, 2011

LIfecycle Papercraft Step 4

I got the first draft of the Lifecycle Papercraft back from the graphic artist yesterday. All the drawings look good. But the butterfly is too big and flops over unless I put a crease in it. I think I will ask her to make it smaller. I also need other changes. I don't like the placement of the word "lifecycle." If it can't go on the arrow, I think I will take it out. I think the catepillar head should not be black. Also, I need some indication of how to attach the two halves. Making progress.