Like a ballerina on the dance floor of life, a newly eclosed Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus, flutters from its host plant, a sycamore tree, to a crape myrtle.
The yellow-and-black butterfly spreads its wings, warming its flight muscles.
It lingers longer than it should (predators abound), but it is in no hurry and neither are we. It folds its wings, looks at the near-cloudless blue sky, and just pauses.
This tiger has no paws, but it knows how to pause.
"The Western tiger swallowtail is basically a species of riparian forest, where it glides majestically back and forth along the watercourse," says butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology. "It has expanded into older urban neighborhoods where several of its host genera are grown as shade trees, and behaves as if the street were a watercourse," he writes on his website. "Spring individuals are smaller and usually paler than summer. Low-elevation hosts include sycamore (Platanus), ash (Fraxinus), cherry and other stone fruits (Prunus), willow (Salix), privet (Ligustrum), lilac (Syringa) and (in Sacramento County) sweet gum (Liquidambar)."
Soon the Western tiger swallowtail will head for a nectar floral source and find a mate--not necessarily in that order.
Have a safe flight!
Others will learn how to design and plant a stunning pollinator garden so they can grow--and enjoy--their own flowers. Honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators will appreciate it, too.
Kate Frey of Hopland, a world-class garden designer, author, and co-founder of the American Garden School, will speak on "Gardening for Bees, Beauty and Diversity” at a free public program at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 14 at Annie's Annuals and Perennials, 740 Market Ave., Richmond.
Frey, a two-time gold medal winner at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London, is the co-author of The Bee-Friendly Garden with Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University. Her latest endeavor: launching the American Garden School, where gardening enthusiasts, would-be gardeners, landscape professionals and others can learn how to design and plant a bee- and beauty-inspired garden.
Frey, who has close ties with University of California entomologists, horticulturists and other scientists, spoke at the Native Bees Workshop last September at the Hopland Research and Extension Center, Mendocino County, and guided a tour of her one-acre spectacular garden at her Hopland home, where she and husband Ben reside.
"Bee gardens make people happy," she and LeBurhn wrote in their book. "Whether you enjoy a brilliant chorus of saturated color, a tranquil sanctuary from the busy world, or a hardworking edible garden, there is a glorious, flower-filled bee garden waiting for you."
Describing bees as "a critical link in the global food chain," they added. "Bees are the world's most prolific pollinators...Over 70 percent of the world's plants depend on the pollination of bees, including many nuts, fruits, tomatoes, peppers, or berries." The book will be available for purchase at the event.
Frey's presentation is part of Annie's two-day Mother's Day Extravanza, to begin at 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, May 13-14. It promises to be both fun and educational. See the schedule, which includes face painting, balloon twisting with Budderball the Clown; stiltwalking with "circus moves"; music and munchies; and other activities. Saturday's special event, at 11 a.m., will be a presentation by tomato breeder Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms, Napa Valley, who will discuss "how to grow the perfect tomato." On both days, a free plant will be given to each mother while the supply lasts.
Food available? Yes. A vendor will be selling kosher hot dogs, veggie dogs and other food both days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, a large crowd is expected to fill the seats at the outdoor program, while bees buzz, syrphid flies hover, and butterflies flutter.
It was a day for UC Davis employees to bring their offspring to campus to show what they and their peers do, and to interest them in career choices and opportunities.
The David and Sarah Trombly family (David works for UC Davis Utillties) were there with their three sons, Daniel, 5, Joshua, 4, and Joseph, 11 months. Joshua, the entomology fan in the Trombly family, exulted over the bugs, eagerly asking the Bohart scientists for identification. His smile widened each time he received an answer.
Amiyah Robinson, 8, was among the daughters who participated in TODS, joining her mother, Chelsy Robinson, who works in Human Resources. Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology, introduced them to the fascinating world of insects.
Bohart associates and UC Davis students Emma Cluff and Wade Spencer showed jewels beetle specimens, and live insects--Madagascar hissing cockroaches ("hissers") and walking sticks--part of the museum's petting zoo. Cluff held a hisser in her hand while a walking stick crawled up her forehead.
Then it went from bugs to snakes! Amiyah walked down the hallway to the display provided by the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology. Owner Donnelly “Papaya” West of Papaya Pythons, Davis, was there for an educational presentation on snakes. Amiyah petted K'uychi, an 8-foot-long, 9-pound rainbow boa, Epicrates cenchria. True to its name, its colors resembled a rainbow in the sunlight.
Want to see more Bohart Museum insects? The Bohart is displaying 17 drawers of insect specimens at the 142nd annual Dixon May Fair, which opened Thursday, May 11 and continues through Sunday, May 14. The specimens are displayed all four days in the Floriculture Building. Scientists will be at the Floriculture Building on two afternoons: Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13 with the hissers and the sticks. Fairgoers will be invited to hold and photograph them. On Friday afternoon, an added attraction is Wade Spencer showing his scorpions, Hamilton and Celeste. Then on Saturday, entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth display at the Bohart Museum, will discuss and show his insect specimens, gathered from many parts of the world. (See May 10 Bug Squad blog)
Hamilton will be at the 142nd annual Dixon May Fair on Friday, May 12.
Not the crowd-pleasing Broadway musical, but a crowd-pleasing scorpion named Hamilton, a resident of the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology. He's owned by Bohart Museum associate Wade Spencer, a UC Davis student majoring in entomology.
Spencer will be bringing Hamilton, as well as his scorpion named Celeste, to the Dixon May Fair's Floriculture Building on Friday afternoon for fairgoers to see and photograph (but not to hold; they're venomous).
Throughout the four-day fair, May 11-14, the Bohart Museum will be showcasing 17 drawers of "Oh My" insect specimens in the Floriculture Building. Scientists will be showing live critters and chatting with fairgoers on two days: Friday, May 12 (1 to 6 p.m.) and on Saturday, May 13 (noon to 5 p.m.)
The live critters? They're part of the Bohart Museum's popular "petting zoo," which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks. Fairgoers can hold and photograph them.
On Saturday, May 13, entomologist and educator Jeff Smith, curator of the butterfly and moth specimens at the Bohart, will be bringing part of his global insect collection of specimens. He and other scientists also will staff the live petting zoo of Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks on Saturday.
Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator, said the 17 drawers of insect specimens spotlight bees, aquatic insects, camouflaged insects, phasmids/mantids, predators/parasitoids, sexual dimorphism, fly-fishing, entomophagy (consumption of insects and arachnids), common California insect pests, leg diversity (Harlequin beetle as center), wing diversity (moth-based), mimicry, orchid pollinators, Hemiptera/Odonata (think dragonflies), cockroaches, and butterflies.
The Bohart display is just one part of the scores of exhibits in the Floriculture Building, organized by superintendent Dave Hutson of Vacaville, a 10-year UC Master Gardener. Exhibits include colorful bee and butterfly motifs.
Elsewhere on the fairgrounds, exhibitors are showing other insect-themed work, such as the scorpion sculpture crafted by Roberto Ortiz of the Dixon FFA. It's displayed in the Youth Building.
Over in the Livestock Barn, you can see Buggy, owned by Sophia DeTomasi, 10, of the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville. Buggy, however, is not an insect--it's a fine-looking 275-pound Berkshire hog that Sophia raised. The origin of the name? Sophia's family fondly calls her "Buggy" and she's passed the moniker on to her 4-H project. Buggy shares a pen with a hog named Bea, raised by Sophia's sister, Toni.
Theme of the 142nd annual Dixon May Fair is "Farm to Fair." It's also known as the 36th Agricultural District, the oldest district fair and fairgrounds in the state of California. The fair supports the communities of Dixon, Vacaville, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Elmira, Woodland and Davis, according to chief executive officer Patricia Conklin. The grounds are located at 655 S. First St., Dixon. (For the schedule of events, access thewebsite.)
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946 and directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus the live petting zoo and a year-around gift shop. The Bohart Museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays.
The theme of the 142nd annual Dixon May Fair set Thursday, May 11 through Sunday, May 14, is "Farm to Fair."
But you could also say: "Bugs to Fair!"
That's because the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, will have a presence there, all in the Floriculture Building.
Specimen boxes--the "Oh, My" drawers--will showcase butterflies, dragonflies, beetle and bees. Bohart Museum associate and entomologist Jeff Smith, butterfly and moth curator, will be at the fair all day Saturday to meet with fairgoers, talk about insects, and show his insect specimens, collected from many parts of the world, including Belize.
Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, and graduate and undergraduate students will be there with live insects, including Madgascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks "and an arachnid (spider) or two," part of the Bohart's live "petting zoo."
Plans call for the Bohart scientists to be at the fair from 1 to 6 p.m. on Friday, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, is directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology. It houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens. It's open to the public Mondays through Thursdays.
The Dixon May Fair (the 36th Agricultural District) is located at 655 S. First St., Dixon. It's the oldest district fair and fairgrounds in the state of California, and supports the communities of Dixon, Vacaville, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Elmira, Woodland and Davis, noted chief executive officer Pat Conklin. More information, including a schedule of events, is on its website.