Erected in 1852, this historic building was ostensibly intended for Benicia City Hall. Offered as the state capitol and promptly accepted, it had that honor from February 4, 1853 to February 25, 1854. Deeded to the state in 1951, it was one of the four locations of the 'Capitol on Wheels.' California Registered Historical Landmark No. 153.
Another sign informs us: "This historic state capitol building dedicated to TRUTH - LIBERTY-TOLERATION by the Native Sons of the Golden West, March 5, 1958."
Still another sign pays tribute to Joseph Fischer of Switzerland who immigrated to New York in 1845, and to Benicia in 1849 "and purchased this lot on July 1, 1858." His home, now known as the Fischer-Hanlon House, is a California Registered Historical Landmark.
Visitors stop to read the signs and see the signs of life: the flora and the fauna...from a double-blossom pomegranate tree to the fluttering butterflies.
Today, on June 14, Flag Day, a Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) spread its wings on a bush, and a Gulf Fritilliary (Agraulis vanillae) nectared on lantana.
Our California legislators probably enjoyed the flora and fauna, too.
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!
When you're chasing a tiger, you don't have to worry about the fangs or the claws.
No worries about this tiger. This tiger has wings.
If you head over to the Storer Garden at the UC Davis Arboretum, you'll see plenty of tigers, Western tiger swallowtail, on the dwarf plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. The plumbago is an Arboretum All-Star. (The UC Davis Arboretum horticultural staff has singled out 100 tough, reliable plants as All-Stars; that is, they're "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 of them are California native plants and support native birds and insects. Most All-Star plants can be successfully planted and grown throughout California.")
The Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) probably would consider the plumbago an All-Star, too, as it flutters around, sipping nectar and looking for a mate.
If you're lucky, you might be able to capture an image of the tiger next to the dwarf plumbago sign. Or, if you're really lucky, you might get two butterflies in one photo.
The Western tiger swallowtail is the kind of butterfly that takes your breath away; you tend to hold your breath while you're trying to hold onto a view of the tiger. It's a bit of flying sunshine in days darkened with trouble and turmoil.
Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, writes this about the tiger on his website (he's been monitoring the butterfly populations of Central California for more than 40 years): "The Western Tiger Swallowtail is basically a species of riparian forest, where it glides majestically back and forth along the watercourse. 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. In the high country and on the Sierran east slope its usual host is Aspen."
Shapiro says the tiger "visits Yerba Santa, California Buckeye, Milkweed, Dogbane, Lilies, Coyotemint" and frequents gardens for Lilac and Buddleia. "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)."
On our block, we've seen the tiger flying around the sycamore and sweet gum. It then flutters over to our pollinator garden to sip nectar from the Buddleia (butterfly bush), Tithonia (Mexican sunflower) and Lantana.
This tiger has wings!
The garden that bears her name in the UC Davis Arboretum is Nature at its Best, especially this time of year.
It's better known as the Storer Garden, but a plaque spells out the entire name, "Dr. Ruth Risdon Storer Garden."
It was dedicated to her on her 92nd birthday, on Feb. 25, 1980.
Who was she?
- The first woman physician on the UC Davis campus
- The first woman pediatrician practicing in Yolo County
- A dedicated member of the Friends of the Arboretum
- An alumnus of the University of California
- The wife of Tracy Irwin Storer, a UC alumnus and founding chair of the UC Davis Department of Zoology. Storer Hall is named for him.
- A philanthropist: she and her husband founded the Storer Endowment in Life Sciences.
The plaque also points out that she was "well known for her own beautiful garden and generously sharing their beauty and her knowledge."
Today is Friday of National Pollinator Week. At noon, we headed over to the Storer Garden on Garrod Drive. A graceful and generous lavender butterfly bush--reminiscent of Dr. Storer--was accepting all visitors: six-legged Western tiger swallowtails, monarchs, painted ladies, cabbage whites, honey bees, carpenter bees, bumble bees and assorted two-legged visitors. No reservations needed.
The showy Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) fluttered, floated, sailed and soared. Her brilliant colors--yellow and black with a splash of blue--lit up the garden. No sun needed--not with the glorious colors of the Western tiger swallowtail around.
It's the first day of summer and the beginning of National Pollinator Week.
What could be better?
This: Spotting a Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) sail through the pollinator garden and touch down on a butterfly bush (Buddleia). When the striking yellow and black butterfly lands softly and begins to forage on the lavender butterfly bush, it's like a Picasso come to life.
"National Pollinator Week is a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them," say officials at the National Pollinator Partnership, which originated the idea of National Pollinator Week and now manages the observance. "During National Pollinator Week, we highlight and share the importance of pollinators including bees, birds, butterflies and bats."
Background: The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the designated week nine years ago. Now it's not only a national celebration but an international one. And well it should be, as we all remember to "protect our pollinators."
Check out the many logged-in activities on the Pollinator Partnership website. Among them: an open house on Friday, June 24 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the University of California, Davis. Part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, the half-acre garden was installed in the fall of 2009 and is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
The haven open house is free and open to the public. Activities include:
- Learn to observe and identify bees
- Catch and observe bees up close
- See honey bees at work
- Learn about low-water plans that help bees
- Buy native bee houses to support the haven
- Enjoy honey tasting and sales
The haven is open to the public from dawn to dusk. The 100-acre UC Davis Arboretum that circles much of the campus is open to the public 24 hours a day. There is no admission.
And that Western tiger swallowtail? You might see it now in the arboretum and haven. Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, writes about it on his website: "The Western Tiger Swallowtail is basically a species of riparian forest, where it glides majestically back and forth along the watercourse. 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."
Among its favorite nectar plants: the aptly named butterfly bush.