Horticulture experts at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden will join forces with the Yolo County Master Gardeners on Sunday, Sept. 24 to present a free workshop on "Pollinator Gardening."
The event takes place from 10 a.m. to noon in the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, UC Davis campus.
They'll tell you how to enrich your environment with bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.
They offer these points on their UC Davis Arboretum website:
- Learn why creating pollinator-friendly habitats in your home landscape is of the utmost environmental importance
- Gain knowledge about the top, locally-appropriate plants for attracting hummingbirds, bees and butterflies
- Find information specific to native pollinators and attracting certain species to your garden
- Tour the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden's newest pollinator-friendly gardens
- Get the latest landscape water conservation tips, news and more from the City of Davis
- Take a pre-sale nursery tour courtesy of Nursery Manager Taylor Lewis (Actual plant sales will not be taking place until our first plant sale event on October 7.)
- Prep your shopping list for the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden's upcoming fall plant sales
To those, we'd like to add three more reasons:
- It's a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. It's about the passion, persistence and poetry of nature.
- It's exciting to see how many pollinators visit--or reside in--your garden. Plant 'em and they will come!
- It's indeed challenging, but highly rewarding to capture images of the pollinators (see below). It's also highly addictive.
"We'd be a shadow of what we are without Jeff," said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomoogy at UC Davis. The museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens, which includes more than 400,000 butterflies and moths. 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. The museum is named for the late Richard M.Bohart (1913-2007), noted UC Davis professor of entomology.
The cake, decorated with a monarch butterfly motif created by a local bakery, drew Smith's attention and enthusiasm. When asked to identify it, he smiled and said: "It's an iconic monarch."
Smith won a 2015 Award of Distinction from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences for his volunteer service. See news story.
Kimsey, who nominated him for the award, noted at the time that Smith "has saved the museum some $160,000 over a 27-year period for his volunteer service."
“You could not ask for a better friend than Jeff Smith,” she said, mentioning that he has “brought us international acclaim and saved us $160,000 through donations of specimens and materials, identification skills and his professional woodworking skills (he creates the finely crafted specimen drawers.) This does not include the thousands of hours he has donated in outreach programs that draw attention to the museum, the college and the university.”
Kimsey, who has directed the museum since 1989, remembers when Smith joined the museum. “When Jeff was working for Univar Environmental Services, a 35-year career until his retirement in 2013, he would spend some of his vacation days at the museum. Over the years Jeff took over more and more of the curation of the butterfly and moth collection. He took home literally thousands of field pinned specimens and spread their wings at home, bringing them back to the museum perfectly mounted. To date (2015) he has spread the wings on more than 200,000 butterflies and moths. This translates into something like 33,000 hours of work!”
Now, it's much more than that, but who's counting?
Not Jeff Smith.
"Entomology is my passion," he says, "and the Bohart Museum is my cause."
(Editor's Note: The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, will host an open house, "Bark Beetles and Trees, Forest Health in California," on Sunday, Aug 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. The Bohart Museum will turn into Bark Beetle Forest Central. Planning the open house is Steve Seybold, a research entomologist with the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Davis, and a lecturer with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “As of last winter, bark beetles had killed 102 million trees in California during the last drought period," Seybold said. “Tree mortality in the western USA over the past 15 years caused by native bark beetles exceeded 21 million hectares, which surpasses all other disturbances, including fire." The open house is free and open to the public. Parking is also free.)
The National Geographic just ran a piece titled "Without Bugs, We Might All Be Dead."
"There are 1.4 billion insects for each one of us," wrote Simon Worrall in reviewing the book, Bugged: The Insects Who Rule and the World and the People Obsessed with Them by journalist David MacNeal.
Some you need a microscope to see, but insects are the 'lever pullers of the world,'" MacNeal insists.
And many are extinct, and many more will be. For example, the butterfly, the Xerces blue (Glaucopsyche xerces) is no more. But you can see it at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis.
"Bug extinction is one of the most extensive extinctions on the planet," MacNeal told her in the interview published Aug. 6. "It's scary because you don't notice it until it's too late. Migration patterns are shifting due to climate, and insects offer a great way of looking at that. A collector went to the Antioch Dunes in California, in the 1960s, and caught a range of bugs. When scientists returned decades later, they found many species were gone, and the host plants with them. These creatures rely on plants and certain weather patterns and temperatures, an adaptive power they've gained over the past 400 million years."
"Twenty years ago you could have seen one billion monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico. The latest count is 56.5 million. To combat the decline, the Obama Administration, working with Fish & Wildlife, enacted this migration highway running from Texas to Minnesota. They planted milkweed along the way, which is the host plant for monarch butterflies, hoping to quadruple that 56.5 million by 2020. I am an optimistic cynic, so I feel that insects will outlive us, if we haven't totally screwed the planet."
When's the last time you saw a monarch flutter through your yard? Are you planting their host plant, milkweed? Are you providing nectar by growing such monarch favorites as the butterfly bush (genus Buddleja), Mexican sunflower (genus Tithonia) and lantana (genus Lantana)?
Think about it: "There are 1.4 billion insects for each one of us."
Make mine the monarch. Well, I like the Western tiger swallowtails and anise swallowtails, too. And the honey bees, sweat bees, longhorn bees, bumble bees, European wool carder bees, dragonflies, and yes, praying mantids...and...wait, there's not enough room to list them all!
We recently watched McCormack Hall superintendent Gloria Gonzalez of Vallejo, and her crew set up the exhibits in preparation for the crowds that will flow through the building next week.
Butterflies appear in many of the entries, including quilts, vests, needlework, paintings, photographs, and arts and crafts. As the crew worked, a butterfly fluttered through the open door, hovered over a display table, and then fluttered out. An omen?
One of the eye-opening, jaw-dropping displays is a butterfly-themed quilt made by LaQuita Tummings of Rodeo. Judges wrote, in part: "Wow, incredible design!" Indeed it is!
The adult division exhibits include a colorful vest of brilliant blossoms and majestic butterflies, sewn by Linda Douthit of Fairfield, a veteran seamstress, 4-H leader and longtime exhibitor. Laura Ryan of Vallejo entered her intricate needlework showcasing bees and blossoms; you can almost hear the bees buzz. Tina Waycie, Vallejo, is showing her quilling (paper arts); the attention to detail is amazing. In adult collections, Joanne Dalton of Vallejo, entered her case of 93 thimbles, and yes, a butterfly motif adorns one of them.
Theme of this year's Solano County Fair, established in 1949, is "This Fair's for Ewe." The grounds are located at 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo. Directors of the Solano County Fair Association, appointed by the Solano County Board of Supervisors, aim for a "positive experience for the public" through "educational, cultural, artistic, commercial and recreational programs."
The fair is open from from 3 to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, and from noon to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. The schedule and ticket prices are listed on the fair website, but note the three free admission days:
- Seniors' Day: Free admission all day on Wednesday, Aug. 2 or seniors 60 and better
- Kids' Day: Free admission all day on Thursday, Aug. 3 for kids ages 12 and under
- Military and First Responders Appreciation Day: Free admission all day on Friday, Aug. 4 for military, law enforcement, firefighters and their dependents
When you go, be sure to look for the monarchs in McCormack Hall. If you're lucky, a butterfly--maybe a monarch, Gulf Fritillary or Western tiger swallowtail--will flutter into the building.
Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. --Nathaniel Hawthorne
A middle-aged woman takes the sign literally. "What would you do if you saw THAT bug in our backyard?" she asks her daughter, about six years old.
"Yecch!" responds the daughter. She didn't say what she would do, but "survival" (hers, not the bug's) seemed to be the key issue.
They were looking at an assassin bug, considered a beneficial insect in the garden.
Now if those visitors were entomologists or bug enthusiasts, they'd probably begin the conversation with one of these three scenarios:
- "Ooh, there's an assassin bug! How lucky can we get!"
- "So beautiful! A work of nature, isn't it?"
- "Oh, wait, I'm going to shoot (photograph) it."
Butterflies? Check! The specimens include monarchs, Western tiger swallowtails, anise swallowtails, West Coast ladies, painted ladies, red admirals, and the pest, the cabbage white. (Note: according to Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, there are more than 300 species of butterflies in California. See his monitoring site. "And 118 have been recorded at my Donner Summit study site alone. There are about 30 species breeding in Davis right now and probably 90+ in Yolo, Solano, or Sacramento County alone--about 100 in Colusa or Napa...")
Dragonflies and damselflies? Check.
Those misunderstood assassin bugs? Check.
Another display at the Bug Barn showcases the life cycle of a monarch, featuring live monarchs and a chrysalis. Visitors at the Insect Pavilion on Wednesday morning, July 26, seemed to like that display more than they did the others. "Oh, my, a live monarch!" Out came the cell phones for quick photos.
A bee observation hive from beekeeper Brian Fishback of BD Ranch and Apiary in Wilton also drew attention. Fishback began keeping bees in 2008 and worked at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, with bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, now of Washington State University.
“Today we continue to share our knowledge with outreach programs to encourage interest in honey bees and share the importance of the bees to our environment as well as our food supply," Fishback wrote on his display. “At BD Ranch, I work very hard rescuing colonies from destruction from pest control companies, nervous homeowners, people unfamiliar with what bees are doing during swarming seasons. By rescuing and raising these feral colonies into strong hives, I can raise queens to carry the surviving genetic traits to other hives that increase their survival."
Meanwhile, just outside the Insect Pavilion, bees buzzed in the garden, unaware of the visitors expressing an interest in them. A honey bee foraged on a blooming sunflower, trailing, stopping, trailing...
Just as the humans were doing inside the Insect Pavilion...