Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, says he's now a "cover boy," too.
Shapiro is featured in the current edition of Sacramento News & Review. The headline: "Butterflyman: Is the Climate Heating Up? A UC Davis Lepitopdera Detective Cracks the Case."
Fact is, Shapiro chases butterfly. It's his passion, pure and simple. He maintains "Art's Butterfly World" website, does nearly year-around field research, and is widely published.
He also has a keen sense of humor. When SN&R reporter Hugh Biggar and photographer Ryan Donahue tagged along with him to Sacramento's Granite Park, Shapiro spotted a male orange sulphur butterfly flying around in the vetch.
"He's probably looking for a mate, and we are not what he has in mind," Shapiro told them, as they moved on.
Shapiro is now pursuing painted ladies.
The Lepitoderan kind.
"I’ve begun receiving inquiries about whether or not to expect a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) migration this spring," he told us last week. "In good years they would already be showing up, but there have been no reports so far anywhere in California, to my knowledge. The phenomenon depends on breeding success in the desert wintering grounds, which in turn depends on the rains producing a good crop of annuals for the larvae to feed on. After good late autumn and December rains, the tap was turned off for seven weeks—just like here—and the early annuals either dried up or froze. There were good rains over the President’s Day weekend—almost 2 inches at Anza-Borrego—which have already triggered another round of germination.
"But is it too little, too late? It all depends on March. 1992 had a very wet March after a dry midwinter. However, the northward migration is controlled by photoperiod (we think), and any butterflies that are around in March will head north rather than try to breed down south. So the timing is dicey. As of now, I would NOT expect a big flight here this spring."
If anyone can find Vanessa cardui, Art Shapiro can.
You'll learn all about butterflies and moths of Central Europe if you attend his talk or webinar (listen live) from 12:10 to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26 in 122 Briggs, University of California, Davis. The webcast will later be archived.
His topic: “Butterflies and Moths in Central Europe: Natural History, Climate Change and Voltinism."
Altermatt is the last speaker in a series of spring seminars launched March 31 by the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Altermatt, who is with the Marcel Holyoak Group at UC Davis, received his doctorate in 2007 from the University of Basel, Switzerland. From 2007-2009, he served as a scientific collaborator at Hintermann & Weber AG, (Ecological Consultancy, Planning and Research), working on the project “Biodiversity Monitoring Switzerland.”
Entomology graduate students James Harwood and Amy Morice of professor James Carey’s lab will be webcasting the seminar. The Wednesday webcastings draw widespread audiences, some from as far away as Brazil.
This is the last spring seminar, but the noon-hour seminars will continue in the fall.
No, the bees and butterflies.
Professor Daniel Papaj of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, will speak on "Ecological and Evolutionary Perspectives on Learning in Bees and Butterflies" at the next UC Davis Department of Entomology noonhour seminar.
The seminar is set for 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 3 in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Drive. Papaj's talk will be Webcast; listen live.
This is the fifth in a series of winter seminars coordinated by graduate student Ian Pearse of the Rick Karban lab. Graduate students James Harwood and Amy Morice of the James Carey lab are Webcasting the seminars.
According to Papaj's Web site, his laboratory studies the "reproductive dynamics of insects in the context of coevolved interactions. We are particularly interested in how the flexibility of an animal's behavior or physiology permits it to maintain high performance in variable environments. Plant-insect interactions are our primary focus, including mainly plant-herbivore and plant-pollinator interactions. Host-parasite, predator-prey, intrasexual and intersexual interactions are considered as well. Within this species interaction context, research topics addressed in our laboratory are diverse, as reflected in a list of keywords that describe recent work."
This look into the fascinating world of insects should draw a capacity crowd.
Papaj's talk will be archived for future viewing. Just access this page to view all the UC Davis Department of Entomology lectures Webcast since February 2009.
But they are fleeting butterflies.
For the past 35 years, noted butterfly expert Arthur Shapiro (top right), UC Davis professor of evolution and ecology, has documented the prevalence--or absence--of 159 species twice a month at 10 sites from the Suisun Marsh to the Sierras. His massive database, unprecedented among lepitopterists, is part of his popular butterfly Web site.
Last week his database and the plight of the butterflies received international attention via a paper published by lead author Matt Forister in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study showed that climate change and land development are taking their toll on butterflies.Forister (lower right) who studied with Shapiro at UC Davis and received his doctorate in ecology from UC Davis in 2004, is now an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Reno, Nev. (You can watch his Webcast on butterflies given last November at a noonhour seminar in the UC Davis Department of Entomology.)
In many respects, butterflies are to the environment what canaries are to coal mines.
Titled "Compounded Effects of Climate Change and Habitat Alteration Shift Patterns of Butterfly Diversity" and the work of eight authors, the research paper documents the disastrous effects of habitat loss and climate changes.
Shapiro, author of the book, Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, says what shocks him is the decline of once common species in the flatlands.
Indeed, prospects for some alpine butterflies, including the Small Wood Nympth and Nevada Skipper, he says, look bleak, too. As he told Contra Costa Times reporter Suzanne Bohan, in her Jan. 19th news article:
"There is nowhere to go except heaven."
The painted ladies are back.
No, not the Victorian and Edwardian homes painted in three colors. No, not women wearing excessive amounts of makeup and pounding the sidewalk with their stiletto heels.
These are BUTTERFLIES.
"Another Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) migration is occurring in north-central
Why hints of overwintering and breeding? Because the insects "were in good condition and did not appear to have migrated long distances," Shapiro says. "They also did not show the usual color-and-pattern signs of having been generated in the desert, but they were not produced locally in the Davis-Sacramento region and were seemingly confined to the west side of the Valley."
Shapiro reports that the first wave from the desert showed up in mid-March. "We received reports of significant numbers migrating through the Sierra at
We saw them last weekend passing through parts of Solano and Yolo counties. They were moving fast and flying low.
"These butterflies are powered by yellow fat carried over from the caterpillar stage and fly like 'bats out of hell' from the Southeast to the Northwest a few feet off the ground, not stopping for food or sex until their fat reserves become depleted," Shaparo. He spotted a few feeding and one female was laying eggs.
Shapiro is updating the migration on the home page of his Web site. It's a must-read. You can learn more about Painted Ladies inside his Web site. See also pages 48-51 and 195-200 of his Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions (
Got a migration report or a video to offer him for his Web site? You can email him at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, those Painted Ladies are absolutely gorgeous. We've heard far too much about ballistic bailouts, burgeoning bonuses and mortage meltdowns--and not enough about the Painted Ladies.
Bring 'em on!/st1:placename>/st1:placetype>/st1:place>/st1:placetype>/st1:placename>/o:p>/st1:personname>/st1:state>/st1:place>/em>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:p>/o:smarttagtype>