So here's this male monarch nectaring on a pink zinnia in a Vacaville pollinator garden.
The nectar is rich and he is as hungry as a migrant butterfly seeking flight fuel for the long journey ahead.
A painted lady, Vanessa cardui, apparently in an amorous mood, quickly approaches and touches down next to him.
Monarch: "Whoa! What's going on?"
Painted lady: "Oops! Wrong species, wrong gender. Sorry about that! I'm leaving!"
Monarch, spreading his wings and preparing to leave: "That makes two of us!"
It's up for discussion. Take the painted lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui. In real life, it is spectacular but the average fan may never be able to photograph it well in the wild. In art, you can depict it as you see it, or how you think it should be depicted. Either way, these butterflies draw attention.
Artist Roberto Valdez finds them fascinating, too. His Dixon May Fair entry in oils and acrylics, adult fine arts, won a well-deserved "best of show" in the Professional Fine Arts category.
No thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dixon May Fair--which dates back to 1876 and is renowned as the oldest district fair and fairgrounds in the state of California--canceled its 2020 and 2021 fairs. This year, however, the fair accepted entries. Judges scored the entries on tables set up in Denverton Hall and images of the winning entries were posted online.
V. cardui has a colorful history. Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, writes on his research website that "apparently the entire North American population winters near the U.S.-Mexico border, breeding in the desert after the winter rains generate a crop of annual Malvaceous, Boraginaceous and Asteraceous hosts. The resulting butterflies migrate north. In good years (lots of desert rain) they may do so by billions, interfering with traffic and attracting the attention of the media."
Valdez' painting depicts 13 painted ladies fluttering by him or stopping to nectar. That's something you don't see often except during the height of a migration.
If you're an insect enthusiast, you'll enjoy seeing the online entries of insects depicted in paintings, photographs, drawings and jewelry. And you'll see bee condos or bee hotels (housing for leafcutter bees and blue orchard bees) crafted by youth.
At the judging tables in Denverton Hall, we also admired a drawing of a friendly blue dragonfly, the work of eight-year-old Logan Rush of Vacaville. He nailed it! Future entomologist? Maybe!
The Dixon May Fair, headed by chief executive officer Patricia Conklin, supports the communities of Dixon, Vacaville, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Elmira, all of Solano County, and Woodland and Davis, both of Yolo County. The 2021 Dixon May Fair normally would have taken place Thursday through Sunday, May 6-9, ending on Mother's Day. However, vendors offered a taste of the fair ("grab and go" food) for fans to enjoy.
Pre-COVID, the fair hosted community and agriculture-related activities throughout the year. The UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology plays a role in the annual four-day fair by providing exhibits. Next year!
It's not spring until you see honey bees, carpenter bees and butterflies on Tidy Tips.
That would be Layia platyglossa, a wildflower native to southern California. Its common name is "Tidy Tips" or "Coastal Tidy Tips." It's a daisylike flower with yellow petals tipped in white, thus the name. It's a member of the aster family.
A flower bed in the center of the UC Davis campus (near the Science LaboratoriesBuilding) boasts an intermingling of the yellow-and-white Tidy Tips and sky-blue Desert Blue Bells (Phacelia campanularia).
Insects think so, too. On any given day you'll see honey bees, carpenter bees, butterflies and lacewings holding family reunions.