- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Beer for a butterfly.
Now that's an interesting concept.
That’s what you’ll get—or the cash equivalent—if you collect the first cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) of 2012 in an area encompassing Yolo, Solano or Sacramento counties.
Professor Art Shapiro of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology has issued the first call for his annual “Catch-a-Cabbage-White-Butterfly-Win-a-Pitcher-of-Beer” contest, which he launched in 1972.
The butterfly must be delivered live to the office of the Department of Evolution and Ecology, 2320 Storer Hall.
Since 1972 the first flight has varied from Jan.1 to Feb.22, averaging about Jan.20. The 2011 find was on Jan. 31.
Shapiro, a noted butterfly expert who maintains a website on butterflies, usually wins the contest. He caught the first cabbage white butterfly of 2011 at 1:21 p.m., Monday, Jan. 31 in Suisun City, Solano County.
1. The butterfly must be captured in one of three California counties: Yolo, Solano or Sacramento on or after Jan. 1, 2012
2. It must be an adult (no caterpillars or pupae) and be captured outdoors.
3. It must be brought in alive to the department office, 2320 Storer Hall, UC Davis, during work hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the full data (exact time, date and location of the capture) and your name, address, phone number and/or e-mail. The receptionist will certify that it is alive and refrigerate it. (If you collect it on a weekend or holiday, keep it in a refrigerator; do not freeze. A few days in the fridge will not harm it.
4. Other species are ineligible.
5. Professor Shapiro’s judgment is final. All butterflies submitted may be retained as vouchers.
The white butterfly, with black dots on the upperside (which may be faint or not visible in the early season), inhabits vacant lots, fields and gardens where its host plants, weedy mustards, grow. It is typically one of the first butterflies to emerge in late winter.
The male is white. The female is often slightly buffy; the "underside of the hindwing and apex of the forewing may be distinctly yellow and normally have a gray cast,” Shapiro says. “The black dots and apical spot on the upperside tend to be faint or even to disappear really early in the season.”
Shapiro sponsors the annual contest to draw attention to Pieris rapae and its first flight. "I am doing long-term studies of butterfly life cycles and climate. Such studies are especially important to help us understand biological responses to climate change. The cabbage white is now emerging a week or so earlier on average than it did 30 years ago here."
Shapiro, who is in the field more than 200 days a year, has been defeated only three times since 1972. And all were by his graduate students. Adam Porter defeated him in 1983; and Sherri Graves and Rick VanBuskirk each won in the late 1990s.
For more information, contact Art Shapiro at email@example.com, (530) 752-2176.