- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Nearly 90 butterfly enthusiasts--from senior citizens to pre-schoolers--met up with entomologist Joel Hernandez last Sunday for his second annual talk and tour on "Butterflies Up Close," sponsored by the UC Davis Arboretum.
Hernandez, who has collected and curated insects for 19 years, told of his passion for Lepitoptera, the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths. "What draws me to butterflies," he said, "is the plethora of different colors and patterns that they display on their wings, as well as their life cycle.”
A 2014 graduate of UC Davis with a bachelor of science degree in entomology, Hernandez currently works for chemical ecologist Steve Seybold as a research/field assistant, and plans to enroll in graduate school.
During his talk, he discussed his participation on a collecting trip to Belize last summer for the Bohart Museum of Entomology. The tour was led by Bohart associate and entomologist Fran Keller, assistant professor at Folsom Lake College, and biologist David Wyatt, a professor at Sacramento City College.
Hernandez displayed butterfly and moth specimens from his California and Belize collections. His favorite butterfly? The blue morpho, Morpho peleides, a tropical butterfly with wings spanning five to eight inches.
As the tour members left the Wyatt Deck, walking along a shaded path and emerging into the sunlight to a milkweed patch, Hernandez pointed out butterflies and other insects along the way.
Butterflies sighted included:
Monarch, gray hairstreak, Acmon blue, fiery skipper, dusky wing skipper, cabbage white, West Coast lady, gulf fritillary, pygmy blue, Western tiger swallowtail and buckeye.
Tour member Ria de Grassi of Davis checked out the insect activity on the showy milkweed, Asclepias speciosa, noting lady beetles, bees and aphids, but no monarch eggs or caterpillars. A new "Monarch Mom," she recently planted milkweed and is beginning to rear a few monarchs for conservation purposes.
The group saw no monarchs but did see other butterflies, including a gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus.
Following the tour, many participants headed for the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house, featuring the Belize collecting trip.