Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mylitta Crescent

My last butterfly walk of the season was last Tuesday. It turned out to be the perfect day because it was also the day of the nuptial flight of the termites. It was magical watching their wings glint in the sun. And the kids loved watching them come out of the ground and fly off. We also saw cabbage whites and skippers. I found a tiny cabbage white caterpillar and showed it to everyone. People so rarely see the tiny specimens and it is so nice when I can find them. Late in the walk, when only one person was left, we saw the Mylitta Crescent pictured here. Andy took the photo. Isn't it lovely?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

American Lady Adult

My first American Lady butterfly emerged today. I'll have to take it up to the UC Botanical Garden to release it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

American Lady Pupa

Some of the American Ladies have now pupated. I kept them in a basket with netting to cage them in. This one pupated on the basket handle. I have read that this species can overwinter as a pupa or an adult. I hope it emerges soon so I can get a good picture.

I also read that the caterpillars eat Edelweiss. I wonder if I could grow that in my garden. Apparently it grows in Castro Valley, not too far away.  Maybe I should try it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

American Lady--Vanessa virginiensis

Meanwhile, back in Berkeley, the American Ladies are growing. I noticed that the pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritace) in the propagation area at the UC Botanical Garden was not doing very well. Then I noticed that it had caterpillars eating it. American Ladies! So I brought them home and put them on the weedy variety. They seemed perfectly happy to transfer, and are now getting ready to pupate. I've got six. Very exciting! I think I have never reared these before. This species occurs across most of the United States.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Western Shorthorned Walkingstick, ​Parabacillus hesperus

This is one of my favorite photos from the trip to Arizona. This walkingstick  is so well camouflaged! I'm really proud of myself for finding it. provided a name for me, so now I know that it is native. So lovely!

Checkered White--Pontia protodice

I saw many white flitting by. It was difficult to see the markings, but I was told that the default white is a Checkered White. This one landed long enough for a picture. This butterfly is found in most of the US, but is only a permanent resident in the southern US and Mexico. Caterpillars eat mustards.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Variegated Fritillary-- Euphtoieta claudia

We all love to think of the butterflies with the flowers. Such a lovely scene, colorful wings and colorful flowers together. Butterflies do like nectar, but they like other things as well. You might see them at rotting fruit, drinking the juice that collects. Or near a puddle, getting a drink of water. In this picture, they are enjoying scat. Excrement. Crazy, but there it is. I like to think that the poop in Arizona is so sweet that the butterflies like it. But in reality, many butterflies in many areas like poop with all its grossness.

I think this is the only picture of the Variegated Fritillary. It was rather common. There were not swarms of them like the Bordered Patches or the Sisters, but there were plenty.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pipevine swallowtail--Battus philenor

I see so many Pipevine swallowtails at the UC Botanical Garden that seeing this species in Arizona was not that special. Still, it is a beautiful butterfly. It occurs in most states and into Mexico. The caterpillars eat only Aristolochia.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bordered Patch (Chlosyne lacinia)

These butterflies are Bordered Patches. The coloring can be quite varied. One of these butterflies is white and black, the other has an orange band. Sometimes the colored bands are wider. These butterflies were very abundant in Arizona. I felt like I was going to step on them, but they always flew. The caterpillars eat sunflowers and related plants. This species lives in the southwestern US and Mexico.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Adelpha bredowi eulialia--Arizona Sister

I saw clouds of Sisters in Arizona. Seems like five flew with every step. Mostly they were sitting on the ground puddling. They were very friendly. It didn't take much to convince this one to climb up on a finger; just a little saliva. Another alighted on a hat. Maybe the hat was sweaty? I don't know.

Supposedly, these are Arizona Sisters. They look just like California Sisters to me. But there is a slight difference on the underside. Something about have two orange bars instead of one. I'll take their word for it.

These butterflies are called sisters due to their resemblance to a nun. They are black and white like nuns, and have an orange face like nuns. Well, maybe nuns don't really have orange faces, but the orange on the butterfly is supposed to represent a face. Seems a little far fetched to me. But it helps me remember the name.

Anyway, the sisters were plentiful, friendly and beautiful. It would have been worth the trip just to see the sisters.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Baby Butterflies (and moths)

                                                         Wooly Bear Molting

                                                  Black and Brown Wooly Bear
                                                  Gold and Orange Wooly Bear
                                                Hyalaphora columbia (silk moth)
                                                      Black Swallowtail
While in Arizon, I saw bunches of caterpillars. Wooly bears everywhere! So they were mostly moths. Like the tussock moth. In Ramsey Canyon, you could barely take a step without bumping into a tussock moth hanging from a tree. I guess the Black Swallowtail was the only butterfly.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Not Butterflies

                                            Pupfish in Tohono Chul Park
                                                          Flower Beetles on Dalea
                                                       Stick Insect.

We saw other insects and other animals on our trip. Above are a few of them.I wonder if that stick insect is native. I know most of the stick insects I see in Berkeley are escaped classroom pets.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Danaus gilippus--Queen

I have never seen a Queen in the Bay Area, but they are common in Arizona. These were in Tohono Chul Park. They are milkweed butterflies, the caterpillars eat milkweed, like Monarchs.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Giant Swallowtail

I took a trip to Arizona for the North American Butterfly Association meeting. I flew into Tuscon and did a bit of sightseeing first. The Air and Space Museum was boring (no butterflies), but Tohono Chul Park was lovely. It was actually more of a botanical garden, with names for the plants, gift shops, restaurant, and even a little museum with exhibits. The butterflies were great! The Giant Swallowtail was nectaring on Lantana. The caterpillars eat citrus and can sometimes they can be a pest.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Multivoltine Butterflies

I found a Gulf Fritillary in my garden today, eating Passiflora 'Berkeley.' Seems like I see adults and caterpillars almost all year around. However, I read something different in the North American Butterfly Association's publication, American Butterflies. In the Spring 2011 issue is an article titled, "Food for Thought: Butterfly Hostplants and Ranges." In the article, authored by Jeffrey Glassberg, is a map indicating that Gulf Fritillaries have two brood per year in most of California. I don't think so. Seems like it must be five or more, given how long it takes them to go through a generation and how much of the year they fly. I am going to have to start documenting their life cycles. So this photo is the first data point. Large caterpillar eating on August 31. Gulf Fritillaries are tropical butterflies that just don't seem to understand seasons.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Monkey Hand Tree

I first posted this pic in my blog in June 2010.

Then in May of this year, someone who claimed to be from Natural History Magazine contacted me and said that they wanted to use my photo in the May issue. I was suspicious. After all, it was already May, and she was using a gmail account.

I contacted the magazine, and they said that it was legit. So I gave permission, and asked for money.

And this month, I got the "May" issue of the magazine, with my photo. And credit! No money as yet, though. I guess the message is that everybody like to take pictures of pretty flowers. But it can be hard to find pics of of seeds and seed pods.

The article, titled, "Curse of the Monkey Hand Tree" is a story about the search for Chiranthodendron pentadactylon  in habitat in Mexico. A nice piece, if you like reading about intrepid botanists, which I do.

It was just a snapshot taken at the UC Botanical Garden. And now I am famous! ;-)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Satyr Anglewing in Flatlands Berkeley

A Satyr Anglewing showed up in my backyard today. They are unusual around here, so I was surprised and excited. They lay their eggs on nettle. I don't have nettle. And no nectar in the backyard. So I don't know why it liked it there, but it kept coming back.I guess my neighbors must have some nettle.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cabbage White Chrysalis

The caterpillar became a chrysalis. Can you tell which part is the chrysalis and which part is the leaf? Again, really great camouflage! The white is the wing, as seen through the pupal case. When it is that easy to see, it means the butterfly is about to emerge. It will probably be a butterfly tomorrow.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cabbage White Caterpillar

Cabbage White caterpillars are so well camouflaged! I love the way that they lay themselves right down along a vein, as if pretending to be a part of the leaf. When I want to find live specimens, I have discovered that it is easier to find eggs than caterpillars. Even thought the eggs are much smaller, they are white and stand out against the green leaves.

Cabbage White caterpillars eat nasturtiums, as pictured here, but they also eat cabbages and other plants in the cabbage family like kale and cauliflower. They can be quite a pest in the veggie garden. But I love them because they are easy to find and have a long season. Cabbage Whites are some of the first butterflies I see in the spring.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Anise Swallowtail

There was an anise swallowtail in my yard today, sunning and nectaring. I have a big red coat on the line drying, and it was faked out over and over again, thinking that it was a flower. It flew over, checked it out, and departed over and over in the twenty minutes that I was watching. I guess it looks like a flower from far away, but not close up.

My butterfly walks started at the UC Botanical Garden on Tuesday. I had a crowd of people. So many things were in bloom, I talked about the flowers more than the butterflies. We did see a ringlet. And the pipevine swallowtails put on a show for us. We found no eggs or caterpillars, though.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Not an Earwig Insect Encounter

I know that is a really lousy pic. You can blame my camera. Anyway, it is a moth. I had to go to the doctor to get it removed from my ear. Who gets a moth in their ear anyway?

So, I think it was Monday night, I was falling asleep, when this flutter noise IN MY EAR woke me up. I tried to shake it out. It fluttered more. Then stopped. I shined a light in their. It fluttered more, then stopped.

Other people said that wax rolling around in our year sometimes seems fluttery. I really thought that it was not wax.

I don't know why it wanted to fly out. It had six legs. Couldn't it just walk out? Maybe there was not enough room to turn around and it couldn't back out... Maybe moths never use their legs, like dragonflies; I have never seen a dragonfly walk anyplace. They just use their legs for perching or catching insects. Meanwhile, it fluttered less and less, then finally quit.

Why did I have to make an appointment with the doctor and wait two days to figure out what it was? Luckily, the doctor had come across this problem before and didn't think I was crazy. I really wanted to know what it was. And now I know.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Puddling Papercraft

I realized today that I didn't post about the puddling papercraft after I completed it. So I took a picture. The craft illustrates a bunch of sulfurs sipping moisture near a rivulet. I think it came out great! Much better than my prototype.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Butterfly Sunning Papercraft

I decided to do a popup of a butterfly sunning on a rock. This is my first try. I wanted the two triangular pieces to look like one rock. This looks like two rocks or a split rock. I guess I need to try again.

Butterflies generally sit out in the sun in the morning to warm up before they fly. They like a nice warm rock for basking. I should put some rocks in my garden. Do you have rocks in your garden?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Garden Planning Session at Shorebird Nature Center

I was invited to a planning session at the Shorebird Nature Center in Berkeley. We met this morning to talk about goals and see the site. Interns, staff, and volunteers attended. The interns were students from Albany High School. Monarchs were flying and I found a lady caterpillar in the cheeseweed. As usual, I emphasized the need for host plants. I also encouraged everyone to watch "In the Company of Wild Butterflies." I hope the project goes well. I'll have to go back when they are finished.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sacred Succulent

There are many Gasterias in the UC Botanical Garden, but I chose this one because it is near the path and easy to photograph. They are all native to South Africa. And many of them have a "tongue" common name like cow's tongue or lawyers tongue, I suppose because the plant looks like a bunch of tongues.

This very fleshy succulent is said to repel lightning. I doubt that it does. But it is probably one of the few things left after lighting has caused a fire because all the moisture inside is protective. In Africa, repelling lighting is a very important property because they have some of the highest rates of lighting in the world. The rate is about 70 strikes/square kilometer/year. Wow!

(Sacred Plant)