So there they were, the bride and groom, culminating their vows.
We spotted them in Vacaville, Calif., clinging to a passion flower vine (Passiflora), their host plant--just the two of them, the female Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) and the male.
Two's company? Not for long.
Soon other Gulf Frits descended on them.
Two's company, three's a crowd. Where did all those uninvited guests come from? They're everywhere!
All went well, though. The guests fluttered off, leaving the couple alone and allowing the photographer to engage in insect wedding photography.
Gulf Frits are incredibly beautiful, what with their bright orange wings with black markings, and underside, their elongated silver iridescence spots. A touch of the tropics!
Gulf Frits have been around a long time in the Bay Area--more than a century, according to Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis. "This dazzling bit of the New World Tropics was introduced into southern California in the 19th century--we don't know how--and was first recorded in the Bay Area before 1908, though it seems to have become established there only in the 1950s," Shapiro writes on his website. "It can be quite common in the East and South Bay--particularly in Berkeley--and has been found breeding spontaneously as far inland as Fairfield, where, however, it is not established."
"There are scattered records in the Central Valley and even up to Folsom, perhaps resulting from people breeding the species for amusement or to release at social occasions. According to Hal Michael, who grew up in South Sacramento, this species bred there in abundance on garden Passiflora in the early 1960s. It seems to have died out by the early 1970s, however. Intolerant of hard freezes, it still managed to survive the record cold snap of 1990 that largely exterminated the Buckeye regionally!"
Shapiro says that in the Bay Area "this species can be seen flying any day of the year, if it is warm and sunny enough."
Thankfully, that's not all they do.
Coming soon to a passion flower vine near you--eggs, caterpillars, chrysalids, and then those gorgeous butterflies!
Think bees. Think butterflies. Think plants that will attract them.
Members (you can join online or at the gate) can peruse and purchase plants from 9 to 11 a.m., and the general public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Members save 10 percent off their plant purchases, while new members receive an additional $10 off as a thank-you gift.
You can chat with the Arboretum folks to pick out that special plant you're seeking. They also provide an online list of available plants and/or you can download The Life After Lawn: Garden Gems Plant List.
Many of the plants at the sale are All-Stars. What's an All-Star? The Arboretum horticultural staff has identified "100 tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum, are easy to grow, don't need a lot of water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden." Many are California native plants and support native birds and insects. Most All-Star plants can be successfully planted and grown throughout California.
If you miss the Oct. 7th sale, not to worry. There are two more fall plant sales:
Saturday, Oct. 21
Open to the Public: 9 a.m - 1 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4
Public Clearance Sale: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
It's a good idea to BYOB (Bring Your Own Box), BYOW (Bring Your Own Wagon) or BYOC (Bring Your Own Cart).
While you're there, check out the 100-acre Arboretum, including the nearby Ruth Risdon Storer Garden (aka Storer Garden), a Valley-wise garden,and the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden and Gazebo (aka White Garden). Have you seen all of the 17 special gardens and collections?
They're called "living museums" because that's what they are. Living museums. And especially when they attract pollinators!
That's a question we're often asked and now we have an answer: Saturday, Oct. 7.
World-class bee garden designer and pollinator advocate Kate Frey, co-author of The Bee-Friendly Garden" (with UC San Francisco professor Gretchen LeBuhn), is inviting folks to join her to "see the principles and practices of the American Garden School expressed and demonstrated" in her unique pollinator garden in Hopland, inland Mendocino County.
A workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. will cover design, site preparation, building health soil, weed control, bees and wildlife in the garden, plant care, and will look at some recommended plant varieties. It will end with an irrigation system demonstration. The cost is $35 for the workshop.
If you want to attend the garden tour, it's from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $10, and participants are invited to bring their lunch.
Worldwide, there are 20,000 species of bees. Of that number, 4000 are found in the United States, and 1600 of them in California. A good many of them are found in the UC Berkeley Urban Gardens (see UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab and in the Frey garden!
The Frey gardens include floral borders, a vegetable garden, unique rustic structures and whimsical art (the work and/or collection of husband Ben), a chicken palace and more. With the Swiss chalet home, this is straight out of a storybook! Indeed, visitors call it an "instant sanctuary," says Kate. They marvel at the beauty, the color, and the paths just begging to be explored. A feast for the eyes; serenity for the soul.
You can register on the American Garden School site. Directions are posted online.
It's 6 a.m.
Do you know where your praying mantids are?
Well, yes. Two of them.
Just before dawn broke, we walked around our pollinator (and prey) garden and spotted a pencil-thin male mantis, Stagmomantis limbata, silhouetted on the milkweed. And then, directly above him, nearly hidden--another silhouette. Could it be? It was: a fine-looking gravid female mantis.
They clung silently to the milkweed, neither moving but fully aware of the other's presence.
Then the sun blushed through the trees and sprayed them with light.
The female began advancing toward the male. The male kept his distance (and his head).
Then what happened? Did they have a close encounter? Did the male lose his head?
No one knows. Sigh. An obligation beckoned and off we went to fulfill it. Sometimes life gets in the way of a good story ending or a bad story ending, depending on your point of view.
However, we do know this: The next day, the female was still there, but the male was not.
He may have lost his head.
We do know that a honey bee lost hers.
When you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you...Rudyard Kipling
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology has booked associate professor of biology Tim Linksvayer of the University of Pennsylvania for a seminar on “Genomic Signatures of Social Evolution in Social Insects" on Wednesday, Oct. 4.
The seminar, open to all interested persons, takes place from 4:10 to 5 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Hall Drive.
"Eusociality in ants, bees, wasps, and termites is a major evolutionary innovation, yet the genomic basis of sociality is largely unknown," Linksvayer says. "I will discuss recent and ongoing research in my lab focused on elucidating the genetic basis and evolution of social traits and social systems in ants and honey bees."
"We study the genetic and behavioral underpinnings of complex social systems in order to understand how these systems function and evolve," he says on his website. "We are especially interested in how social interactions affect genetic architecture and trait evolution."
Access his website and you'll see a pharaoh ant. "We use social insects, such as the pharaoh ant, as a study system because they are exemplar social systems and are also well-established models for research in social evolution, behavioral genetics, and collective behavior."
This is the second of the fall seminar series hosted by the department. The seminars began Sept. 27 and will conclude Dec. 6. Assistant professor Rachel Vannette is coordinating the seminars.
Oct. 11: (Cancelled as of Oct. 4) “Multitrophic Mediation of Plant Perception of Herbivores” by Gary Felton, Pennsylvania State University, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis
Oct. 18: Exit seminar by Leslie Saul-Gershenz, doctoral candidate, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Oct. 25:"Ecoinformatics and the Curious Case of Katydids in California Citrus" by Bodil Cass, UC Davis
Nov. 1:“Mating Distruption of Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter by Playback of Natural Vibrational Signals in Vineyard Trellis” by Rodrigo Krugner of the U.S,. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS)
Nov. 8: Exit seminar by doctoral candidate/ecologist Ash Zemenick, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Nov. 15: “Revelations from Phasmatodea Digestive Track Transcriptomics” by Matan Shelomi, National Taiwan University, who received his doctorate in entomology from the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Nov. 22: Thanksgiving week; no seminar
Nov. 29; “Ant Social Parasites Repeatedly Evolved Reproduction Isolation from Their Hosts in Sympatry” by Christian Rabeling, Arizona State University
Dec. 6: “Root Knot Nematode and Associated Pathogen Resistance” by Phil Roberts, University of Riverside
The Department of Entomology and Nematology, chaired by professor and nematologist Steve Nadler, is world renowned for its quality research, education and public service. Globally, it is ranked No. 7 by The Times Higher Educational World University Rankings for its teaching, research, international outlook and industry outcome. Its facilities include the Bohart Museum of Entomology, Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, and its mosquito research program based at UC Davis and the Kearney Agricultural Research and Center in Parlier.
Faculty are globally recognized for their expertise in insect demography, systematics and evolutionary biology of ants, pollination and community ecology, integrated pest management, insect biochemistry, molecular biology, and the systematics and evolutionary biology of nematodes. The graduate program offers master's and doctoral degrees. The teaching and research faculty includes some 40 professional entomologists and nematologists.