Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, WildlifeTags , ,

Butterfly migration is a Thanksgiving tradition on Sonoma Coast

Gaye LeBaron, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
There was a wire service news story in the paper a couple of weeks ago about monarch butterflies.
It seems that in late October, some of the eastern monarchs, which are supposed to migrate south to Mexico each fall, were still hanging out in Canada’s Point Pelee National Park on a northern flank of Lake Erie. They should have been “on the road,” so to speak, at least six weeks earlier.
This is scary stuff for the lepidopterists who study butterflies and are already concerned about the effects of climate change on the insects.
Monarchs, they know, don’t do well when the temperature drops below 50 degrees — the muscles that make them flutter apparently stiffen in the cold.
Some consider this another reason to declare the big orange and black butterflies that are the undisputed sovereigns of the butterfly world an endangered species. Some will go further, taking this new glitch in the ecosystem as a warning that the apocalypse draws closer. The optimists say, let’s wait and see what happens next year before we panic.
I am not versed in lepidoptery or entomology. But I do know a little something about monarchs — western monarchs, that is — the ones who live west of the Rocky Mountains in both the U.S. and Canada.
Their southbound migration route hugs the Pacific Coast and can go all the way to Mexico every winter. They have a lot of choices, in California’s temperate coastal climes, as to where to spend their winters.
Read more at: Gaye LeBaron: Butterfly migration is a Thanksgiving tradition on Sonoma Coast

Posted on Categories Habitats, WildlifeTags , ,

Nonprofit seeks support for Market St. butterfly habitat

Carrie Sisto, HOODLINE
If you pay attention as you walk along Market Street in the Financial District, you may notice bright yellow and black butterflies darting in and out of sunlight amongst the plazas, trees and other open spaces.
Surprisingly, the buildings and trees lining both sides of the busy thoroughfare, the flow of traffic, and the large, open plazas all combine to serve as an excellent stand-in for the tiger swallowtails’ typical river canyon habitat, Nature in the City (NitC) executive director Amber Hasselbring told us. The organization, founded in 2005 to support, enhance, and preserve local nature in San Francisco’s urban environment, is hosting a butterfly walk at lunchtime on Thursday, September 14th.
Read more at: Nonprofit Seeks Support For Market St. Butterfly Habitat | Hoodline

Posted on Categories Habitats, WildlifeTags ,

Louise Hallberg, Graton’s 'Butterfly Lady,' dies at 100

Nick Rahaim, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County lost a piece of history with the passing of Louise Hallberg on Saturday. She was 100 years old.
The lifelong Graton resident was affectionately known to decades of Oak Grove Elementary School students as “The Butterfly Lady.” Every year since the late 1980s, students at the school would take the 10-minute walk to the butterfly garden at Hallberg’s Victorian home, built by her grandfather around the turn of the 20th century.
“She was so sweet and so kind and she loved children,” said Ann Parnell, secretary at Oak Grove Elementary School and longtime Graton resident.
The butterfly garden got its start in when Hallberg’s mother, Della, planted the native Dutchman’s Pipe in the 1920s. The vine is the only plant on which the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly nests. Those butterflies had almost exclusive reign in the garden until Hallberg began to plant vines and flowers to attract other butterflies more than a half century later. This original planting makes the west county landmark one of the oldest butterfly gardens in the county.
Read more at: Louise Hallberg, Graton’s ‘Butterfly Lady,’ dies at 100 | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags , ,

With spring wildflowers, pipevine swallowtail butterflies emerge in Sonoma County 

Jeanne Wirka, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The explosion of wildflowers throughout March and April ushers in a favorite Sonoma County phenomenon — the emergence of the pipevine swallowtail butterflies (Battus philanor).
While they represent just one of many pollinators now visiting our nectar-rich fields, these black and iridescent blue lovelies stand out. They are large and slow enough that we humans can easily follow their progress as they visit flower after flower in search of nectar. The tiny scales on their dark wings catch the light, reflecting blue metallic hues above and displaying bright orange spots underneath.
And, if we know when and where to look, we can track their entire life cycle during the coming months.
Read more at: With spring wildflowers, pipevine swallowtail butterflies emerge in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat