- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
And the winner is…drumroll…Art Shapiro. Yes, he's won again!
We're not sure how many folks were out searching in the three-county area of Sacramento, Solano and Yolo, but the first butterfly of the year is now history.
Shapiro collected the cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae, at 11:23 a.m. Friday, Jan. 19 in one of his frequented sites—a mustard patch by railroad tracks in West Sacramento, Yolo County. He caught it with his hands--no net--no small feat.
Since 1972, the first flight has varied from Jan. 1 to Feb. 22, averaging about Jan. 20. Shapiro acknowledged that he didn't think he'd find it Jan. 19 as the weather forecast included cloudy skies and a chance of rain.
“I spotted the male butterfly dorsal basking (sunbathing) on low vegetation shortly after the first cumulous formed at 11 a.m.,” the professor said. “As I approached to collect it, a small cumulus occluded the sun and it closed its wings over its back--allowing me to just pick it up without using my net at all, and drop it into a glassine envelope. It turned out that that was the ONLY cloud that crossed the sun in the next two and a half hours! It got up to about 60 degrees and was a gorgeous day with a trace of a west wind.”
He described the butterfly as quite yellow instead of white. “Cold weather promotes sepiapterin formation, so early ones are often quite yellow.”
Apparently the newly emerged butterfly had not yet flown. When Shapiro placed it in the glassine envelope, “it voided meconium, metabolic wastes of metamorphosis, normally ejected before the first flight.” (Note that in its immature form, the cabbageworm is a pest. See UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) website.)
His former graduate student, Matt Forester, now a professor of biology at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a research collaborator with Shapiro, accurately predicted the first butterfly would be found on Jan. 19.
This is the seventh year the winning butterfly has been collected in Yolo County. Last year Shapiro found the winner on the UC Davis campus; in 2016, graduate student Jacob Montgomery netted the winner outside his home in west Davis, and Shapiro collected all five winners from 2012 to 2015 in West Sacramento.
Shapiro mused that the 2018 winner "probably emerged an hour or so before I got there so this really is the start of the season! Let the rites of spring begin!”
How many days 'til spring? Check out this handy "Days Left to Spring" website for the days, hours and minutes./span>
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
When you attend the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Sunday, Jan. 21, featuring insect art, you will find art so intricate and so breathtaking that you may change your career path!
The family friendly event, free and open to the public, takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building.
Two of the talented artists showing their work will be Charlotte Herbert, who is seeking her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, and Ivana Li, a UC Davis biology lab manager who received her bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2013.
Herbert studies Asilidae (assassin fly) evolution with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology. "I hope to someday make my own scientific illustrations for taxonomic revisions," Herbert says. "My dream is to be a curator of an entomology museum." Herbert started drawing and painting in 2015 and "have loved it ever since." She now helps teach Entomology 001, and entomology and art fusion class.
Li, a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Club and a recipient of the UC Davis Department of Entomology's 2012 Outstanding Undergraduate Award, recalls that her fascination with insects began in early childhood but she didn't know the meaning of “entomologist” until her second-grade encounter with Chester. Chester is the main character of George Selden's Newbery-award winning book, A Cricket in Times Square.
"I was pretty thrilled that to find out that there was actually a job in which you get to study insects," Li recalled. "That was the best. It still is.”
The open house, "Bug-Art@The Bohart," will feature a number of artists. UC Davis undergraduate student and artist Karissa Merritt will be on-hand sketching insects for all to see, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. You'll see:
- Art from the collection of the late Mary Foley Bensen, a former Smithsonian Institution scientific illustrator who lived the last years of her life in Davis, and who worked for entomology faculty
- Art from Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology, who illustrated under her maiden name Lynn Siri
- Art by Charlotte Herbert, Ph.D. student; and UC Davis alumni Ivana Li and Nicole Tam, who hold degrees in entomology from UC Davis
- Exhibit of "insect wedding photography" by Bohart associates Greg Kareofelas and Kathy Keatley Garvey
Open house attendees are invited to wear insect-themed attire, including dresses, ties, and jewelry. A contest will take place at 3 p.m. for the best insect-themed outfit, and for the best insect-themed tattoo (tattoo must be in a family friendly location).
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart and is newly returned from a collecting trip to Belize, will be on hand to show the Bohart collection.
In connection with Bohart open house, campus visitors can tour the Design Museum exhibit, It's Bugged: Insects' Role in Design, in 124 Cruess Hall from 2 to 4 p.m. The exhibit, which runs through April 22, includes art from faculty and students affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Design, and specimens from the Bohart Museum, as well as images by UC Davis alumnus and noted insect photographer Alex Wild, curator of entomology at the University of Texas, Austin. Wild received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 2005, studying with major professor Phil Ward.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold some of the arthropods and photograph them. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum holds special open houses throughout the academic year. Its regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Tabatha Yang at email@example.com.