And when you do, you'll be helping the bees, butterflies, beetles and bats.
The gardens? They can be public or private gardens or landscapes that support pollinators. If you don't have access to a garden, you can fill pots with pollinator plants and grace your deck, patio, balcony or windowsill.
The Porland, Oregon-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat, is a partner. Communications director Matthew Shepherd wrote a blog last June challenging us all to help the pollinators. The Garden Network, coordinated by the National Wildlife Federation, is an outgrowth of the White House's National Pollinator Strategy. "It draws together nearly two dozen nonprofits and organizations with a shared aim, to make gardens better for pollinators nationwide," Shepherd says.
Your garden should offer a diversity of plants rich in nectar and pollen. No pesticides. That bears repeating. No pesticides. And don't mulch your entire garden; leave some bare soil for solitary bees to nest. And it's good to install bee condos for leafcutter bees and blue orchard bees.
You can register your garden on the SHARE website where "visitors will be able to visually track the progress of the campaign," according to the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. "Registrants can upload photos and videos of their sites, and the map can be sorted by garden type. In addition, a metric to assess pollinator garden actions across multiple organizations will be in effect as the campaign progresses."
What's in Matthew Shepherd's garden in Beaverton, Ore.?
- Bee balm
- Black-eyed Susans
- Blanket flower
- Bleeding heart
- California fuchsia
- English lavender
- False indigo
- French lavender
- Giant hyssop
- Grape hyacinth
- Great northern aster
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Lamb's ear
- Narrow-leaf coreopsis
- New England aster
- Oregon grape
- Plains coreopsis
- Prairie coneflower
- Purple coneflower
- Riddell's goldenrod
- Showy milkweed
- Wood rose
- Wood strawberry violets
"The front is sunny, the back a shady forest edge—part of the reason for the diversity of plants," Shepherd noted.
In our bee/butterfly garden in Vacaville, Calif., we've planted milkweeds (host plant of the Monarchs), passionflower vine (host plant of the Gulf Fritillaries), English lavender, salvias, blue beard, catmint, lantana, Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia), Photinia, butterfly bushes, honeysuckle, blanket flower, California poppies, alyssum, gaura, California fuchsia, crape myrtle, African blue basil, cherry laurels, foxgloves, sedum, dwarf bulbine, oregano, rock purslane, cosmos, zinnias, tomatoes, cucumbers, pomegranates, olives, lemons and tangerines, to name a few.
We're feeding the bees, butterflies and beetles. And other pollinators, such as hummingbirds and moths. We're not feeding the praying mantids. They're feeding themselves.
They're an ancient insect. Their ancestors existed before dinosaurs. Indeed, fossil records show that they were the world's largest flying insects, some with wingspans measuring three feet.
Visitors at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house last Sunday, Sept. 20 at the University of California, Davis, learned those facts--and more--when dragonfly expert Rosser Garrison of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) showcased his work.
Garrison, senior insect biosystematist in the CDFA's Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, Sacramento, showed part of his worldwide collection of dragonflies and answered questions from the eager guests. He has researched and collected dragonflies throughout much of the world, including Puerto Rico, Argentina and Costa Rica.
Of the world's 6000 described species of dragonflies, Garrison has collected representatives of some 3500 different species. His collection totals 45,000 specimens.
Garrison displayed “The largest dragonfly in the world," Petalura ingentissima. This magnificent species, he said, was discovered in 1908 in North Queensland, Australia. Specimens are not often seen in collections. Among his other specimens: some of the smallest dragonflies including Nannothemis bella, Perithemis tenera (both eastern United States) and Nannophya phymaea (Singapore).
Some interesting facts about dragonflies:
- Dragonfly relatives existed before the onset of the dinosaurs---Triassic Period, 250 to 200 million years ago
- They have a primitive flight mechanism compared to other insects, bees, butterflies, beetles and flies.
- Dragonflies mostly mate on the wing.
- They are not poisonous and they do not sew up people's ears (“devil's darning needles”). However, one group of large dragonflies are called—appropriately—"Darners."
- Larvae have a prehensile foldable lower lip unique in insects; it is used for capturing prey like mosquito larvae or even small fish.
Garrison's research has resulted in more than 80 published papers and book chapters. He served as the senior author of two recently published volumes, Dragonfly Genera of the New World. An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Anisoptera (2006), and Damselfly Genera of the New World. An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Zygoptera (2010), both published by The Johns Hopkins University Press). He has also contributed chapters on invertebrate ecology for The Food Web of a Tropical Rain Forest (Chicago University Press, 1996) and Manu. The Biodiversity of Southeastern Peru (National Museum of Natural History, 1996). Since January 1998, he has edited Odonatologica, the quarterly journal of the Societas Internationalis Odonatologica.
Garrison holds two degrees from the University of California, Berkeley: his master's degree in 1974 and his doctorate in 1979. His doctoral dissertation explored “Population Dynamics and Systematics of the Damselfly genus Enallagma of the western United States (Odonata: Coenagionidae) 1979," published in 1984.
Among those attending were several other dragonfly experts/enthusiasts:
- Andrew Rehn, a stream ecologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who received his doctorate in entomology (dissertation on dragonflies) at UC Davis in 2000 with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis
- Kathy Claypole Biggs of Sebastopol and McCloud, author of Dragonflies of California and Dragonflies of the Greater Southwest and a children's coloring book on dragonflies
- Sandra Hunt-von Arb, senior biologist at the Pacific Northwestern Biological Resources, McKinleyville, Calif (she started Western Odonata on Facebook on Feb. 8 and leads dragonfly workshops in Northern California; and
- Greg Kareofelas, Bohart Museum associate who is a naturalist and photographer who studies dragonflies, butterflies and other insects. He and Fran Keller (doctorate in entomology from UC Davis) created the dragonfly and butterfly posters available for sale at the Bohart.
The dragonfly open house was the first of the academic year. Other weekend open houses scheduled:
Saturday, Dec. 5, 1 to 4 p.m.: “Keep Calm and Insect On.”
Sunday, Jan. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m.: “Parasitoid Palooza II”
Saturday, Feb. 13: Biodiversity Museum Day
Saturday, April 16, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: UC Davis Picnic Day
Saturday, July 31, 8 to 11 p.m.: “Celebrate Moths.”
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1134 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens, including 469 different species of dragonflies. 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. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum. It is open to the public Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Tabatha Yang (email@example.com) is the public education and outreach coordinator.
Broken Wing belongs here.
And that's a good thing, because he won't live long.
A male monarch that we've nicknamed “Broken Wing” due to a predator mark, hangs out on our milkweed, butterfly bush and Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). He's probably looking for a meal and a mate. Not necessarily in that order.
Scrub jays watch Mr. Danaus plexippus zigzag over the garden and try to nail him. Missed! Hey, didn't you get the message that monarchs don't taste good?
One scub jay, oblivious to the crippled butterfly, perched on our cherry-laurel lined fence today with an acorn in its mouth. Better that than our butterfly.
Praying mantids in our yard would like to make a meal of Broken Wing, too, along with ants, wasps, and dragonflies, not to mention Jeremiah, the American bullfrog that resides in our fish pond.
One thing's for sure: Broken Wing won't be migrating to an overwintering spot in Santa Cruz or Pacific Grove any time soon. He won't be migrating anywhere.
One of the casualties of predator-prey interactions..,
Carey, widely acclaimed for his groundbreaking teaching program that centers on the strategic use of digital technology, is the newly announced recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award from the Entomological Society of America (ESA).
The award, presented annually to one of the 7000 members of ESA, singles out “what is deemed to be the most outstanding teacher of the year,” said ESA communications program manager Richard Levine. Carey is the second UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology to receive the honor. Diane Ullman was awarded the prize in 2014.
Carey, a 35-year member of the department, will receive the honor at the ESA's Nov. 15-18 meeting in Minneapolis, Minn.
He earlier received the 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Pacific Branch of ESA, which covers 11 Western states, U.S. territories and parts of Canada and Mexico; and the UC Davis Academic Senate's 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, an honor given to internationally recognized professors who excel at teaching, and the Academic Senate's 2015 Service Award.
Over the last five years Carey has developed a technological-savvy teaching program, a groundbreaking model for 21st Century instruction using short, concise videos. He teaches faculty, staff and students how to create the succinct videos, and how to record seminars. All are geared toward ease of learning and increased knowledge retention.
Carey himself has created 125 mini-videos. One of the most viewed is a 12-minute video covering 15 digital ideas and teaching that has drawn national and global attention. For the past several years, Carey has taught video instruction methods throughout the country and for the 9-university Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa. (See his videos on his faculty page at http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/Faculty/James_R_Carey/)
His students continually thank him for motivating, encouraging and inspiring them, praising him as “best teacher” and “invaluable.” A Japanese exchange student lauded him for “his creativity of coursework, unmeasurably broad knowledge and enthusiasm for mentoring.”
His teaching philosophy? “Just as changing weather patterns cannot be understood without a deeper understanding of the drivers of climate change, students need to know the big picture to understand the pixels,” Carey said. “Students learn the need to zoom in and zoom out so that they can consider the details in the context of larger conceptual and operational frameworks.”
Carey teaches two main courses at UC Davis, including an upper-division course titled “Longevity” and a lower-division general education online course titled “Terrorism and War.” In keeping with advancing technology, Carey uses Skype each week to bring in new scientists; uses micro voice, a language miniaturization essay concept, a syllabus familiarization quiz; and paperless exams.
Carey's deep interest in the use of digital technology in academia started when he chaired the UC Academic Senate University Committee on Research Policy. He described a framework or “road map” for using video capture of seminars to increase research synergy across the 10 UC campuses. The University of California TV station, UCTV, then used this publication as a roadmap for creating the video platform, UCTV Seminars. To date, the website has tallied some 10 million seminar downloads.
One reason for the popularity of this new platform, Carey said, “is a low-tech, low-cost, and easy-to-use video recording equipment that anyone can use.” Seminars should be “public,” he said, and the tax-paying public ought to be able to view the seminars for free.
Carey is internationally known for his research in insect demography, mortality dynamics, and insect invasion biology and is considered the preeminent global authority on arthropod demography. Carey was selected a plenary speaker for the 2016 International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, Fla., where he will present “Insect Demography: A 21st Century Tour.”
He holds a bachelor of science degree in fisheries and wildlife biology and a master's degree in entomology from Iowa State University. He received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1980 and then joined the UC Davis entomology faculty that year.
Carey is a Fellow of ESA as well as of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Gerontological Society of America, and the California Academy of Science. He has authored 250 scientific publications and three books, including the highly cited Demography for Biologists with Special Emphasis on Insects (Oxford, 1993).
Among his major accomplishments in video technology:
Write Like a Professor: The Research Term Paper. To meet the considerable challenge of teaching writing to classes of 250 students, Carey created a playlist of 13 videos.
One Minute Entomology. Carey innovated the concept of the “one minute expert” by launching student-produced videos that are 60 seconds in length. To date, students taught by Carey and two colleagues have produced more than 125 videos. In this ongoing project, students learn entomology, insect identification, succinct writing and speaking, best practices for slide presentation, peer review and teamwork.
How to Make an Insect Collection. Carey taught undergraduate and graduate students how to gather information and produce short videos for “How to Make an Insect Collection.” The award-winning project, considered by ESA as the best of its kind on the internet, includes a playlist of 11 short videos showing different aspects of insect collecting--from use of nets and hand collecting to pinning mounting and labeling.
Be sure to check out his faculty page to watch his amazing videos.
Have you ever seen a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) lay an egg on her host plant, the milkweed?
Have you ever seen a close-up of the egg? The larva or caterpillar? The chrysalis? The eclosure (when the adult emerges from the chrysalis)?
It's a fascinating sight.
Not all eggs will make it. Predators, such as lady beetles and their larvae, gobble up monarch eggs along with those tasty aphids. Birds, such as scrub jays, swoop down and make off with an occasional caterpillar. Then when the fifth instar finally starts to form a chrysalis, there's always the question of whether it will do so. Some are deformed and turn out to be half chrysalis and half caterpillar.
But once you've watched a complete metamorphosis, you'll never underappreciate monarchs again. In fact, you'll probably start rearing them every year. We just reared our first two this month.
It's easy to see why teachers and their students get so excited. We remember writing about Sal (Sally) Levinson's newly published book, Butterfly Papercrafts, which contains 21 indoor projects for outdoor learning. Levinson, who studied entomology at the graduate level at UC Riverside and UC Berkeley, wants to inspire youngsters to learn about our amazing world of butterflies through art and a little science.
It's intended for youngsters ages 5-12, but really, it's also a beginner's book for all ages and a teacher's treasure. And it's priced right--under $10 ($9.99). Readers can learn about the life cycle, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult; and craft a butterfly paper airplane, a caterpillar flip book, and a monarch finger puppet.
Meanwhile, North America's monarchs are heading for their overwintering sites in two main areas: the mountains of central Mexico, and choice spots along the California coast, including Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz.
"The annual migration of North America's monarch butterfly is a unique and amazing phenomenon," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service website. "The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do. Unlike other butterflies that can overwinter as larvae, pupae, or even as adults in some species, monarchs cannot survive the cold winters of northern climates. Using environmental cues, the monarchs know when it is time to travel south for the winter. Monarchs use a combination of air currents and thermals to travel long distances. Some fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home."