- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It must, however, be collected in Yolo, Solano or Sacramento counties and delivered live to his department at the University of California, Davis.
Shapiro, a noted butterfly expert and a professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology (EVE), sponsors the annual contest to draw attention to Pieris rapae and its first flight.
Why does he do this? "I am doing long-term studies of butterfly life cycles and climate," he said. "Such studies are especially important to help us understand biological responses to climate change. The Cabbage White is now emerging a week or so earlier on average than it did 30 years ago here."
Shapiro, who is in the field more than 200 days a year, enlists public involvement "because I have that much more confidence that I am tracking the actual seasonality of this common 'bug.'"
he butterfly must be turned in alive to the receptionist in the Department of Evolution and Ecology, 2320 Storer Hall, UC Davis, during the business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The receptionist will certify that it is alive and then notify Shapiro, who will confirm the identification.
"First flight dates in the past have varied between Jan.1 and Feb. 22," Shapiro said. "The first record in 2010 was on Jan. 27. Sight records without a capture are interesting but not eligible to win since the species cannot be verified."
"If you capture a Cabbage White on a weekend or holiday when the EVE office is closed, or cannot deliver it the day you catch it, refrigerate it; do not freeze it," he said. "It will keep up to a few days that way. Again, it must be alive when turned in to be eligible. If no receptionist is on duty when you arrive, ask any member of the EVE office staff to take care of it."
If the winner is a minor or doesn't drink alcohol, he or she will get the equivalent in cash.
Shapiro almost always wins the contest. He has been defeated only three times. In the late 1980s, “I was beaten fair and square by my then graduate student Adam Porter.”
In the late 1990s, “I was beaten by my then grad student Sherri Graves once, but that's because I was in Argentina--as I recall--when the first one came out." Another graduate student Rich VanBuskirk also claimed the title in the late 1990s.
“Anyway, I am not invincible! Interestingly, people contact me as late as June, asking ‘Did I win?' No.”
For more information, contact Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone (530) 752-2176, or fax him at (530) 752-1449.