Events: Central Arizona Chapter Meeting Saturday, November 19th

The North American Butterfly Association’s Central Arizona Butterfly chapter invites you to join us for a free and exciting meeting on Saturday, November 19th, from 2-4pm that will recap our efforts, field trips and meetings of the past year. Members will show-off their most beautiful, interesting photos of butterflies, moths or caterpillars in a photo presentation. We will be selling our 2017 butterfly calendar, field guides, jewelry and butterfly related art. We will also trade host plant cuttings and seeds, and have our yearly raffle. There will definitely be time to socialize with light refreshments provided. Meeting will be held the at Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren, 2450 N. 64th Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85257 (On the NW corner of Oak and 64th St. This is about one mile north of the Desert Botanical Garden).

For more information about the Central Arizona Butterfly Association please visit http://cazba.org/default.aspx

Butterfly Gardening: Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

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(The awesome Hackberry Emperor, Asterocampa celtis)

We don’t often think of trees when considering planning a butterfly garden, which is to overlook their importance as host plants for some caterpillars. Today let’s look at the Common Hackberry, also known as the American Hackberry.

A relative of the Elm tree, hackberry trees are adaptable to a wide range of light and moisture levels. Often planted for its purple-red fruit that attracts a wide variety of birds, hackberry can be used as a native alternative for Chinese and Siberian Elms.


(map of Celtis occidentalis from bonap.org: dark green squares mean the species is present in county and native, light green means species is present and not rare, yellow means species is present but rare, and blue means the species is native, but adventive in state)

Importance as a caterpillar food source: Hackberry trees provide many butterfly species with caterpillar food. Although the activity is usually high above easy viewing levels, some guidelines for caterpillar identification are:

  • Tawny Emperor caterpillars eggs are laid in large groups of 200 to 500 on hackberry bark or leaves. The young caterpillars feed in large groups.
  • Hackberry Emperor caterpillar eggs are laid in small groups ranging from one to twenty.
  • American Snout caterpillar eggs are laid in small groups.
  • Caterpillars of the Question Mark butterfly live alone on hackberry leaves.
  • Mourning Cloak caterpillars live together in a web while eating hackberry leaves.

Importance as a butterfly nectar source: Hackberry is used as a nectar source but its popularity varies by location.

The following article originally appeared in Butterfly Gardener (Vol. 14, Issue 1, Spring 2009). NABA member Lenora Larson has graciously allowed us to reprint it here.

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Is there a perfect tree? Consider the magnificent hackberry tree, Celtis occidentalis. Many species of butterflies consider it the perfect caterpillar food plant, including the Question Mark, Mourning Cloak, Hackberry Emperor, Tawny Emperor and the darling American Snout. About every five years, we are blessed with huge eruptions of Hackberry Emperors. Leave your car window open, and fifty will perch on your steering wheel, enjoying its saltiness.

Birds also celebrate hackberry trees. Winter residents such as yellow-bellied sapsuckers, wild turkeys, and mockingbirds depend on the persistent berries. In fall and again in spring, great flocks of migrating cedar waxwings swoop onto the hackberry tree to gobble berries while discussing their journey in that distinctive musical twitter.Hackberry fruit And our beautiful fox squirrels eat both the leaf galls and the fruit. I have personally taste-tested the sweetness of the dark red berries, a thin flesh around a single nutlet.

Landscape designers effusively praise the hackberry tree and rate it “superior.” Like other members of the elm family, it creates a shady canopy, growing to 60 feet with a 40 to 50 foot spread. This American native’s resistance to pollution makes it the perfect urban tree. From zone 3 to Florida’s zone 9, hackberries flourish in any type of soil: acidic, alkaline, clay or loamy or sandy. Bring on the flood or the drought, hackberries thrive. Mature hackberry trees prefer full sun, but will grow in partial shade.

Garden designers yearn for four-season interest. The May flowers are an insignificant green, but the pale green spring leaves and yellow fall foliage are attractive.Hackberry Bark Even better, the “geographic” bark provides that scarcity, winter charm. Stomping through the snowy forest, a hiker can easily identify hackberry trees by the light gray bark arranged in deep, corky furrows that look like mountain ranges.

This beautiful native tree feeds animals, grows under tough conditions and harvests as attractive hardwood for furniture and flooring. How can we even question this tree’s perfection? In a word, berries. Hackberries. They are spread far and wide by birds and have at least a 300% germination rate. (OK. The book says 34%, but it seems like 300%). From June to October, I’m patrolling my gardens for seedlings. If you don’t tug the seedlings out the first year, they resist all but the strongest arm. And by the third year, even Round-up requires multiple applications to eradicate the pesky upstarts.

We were so close to perfection! Is there a solution? Yes, “stooling:” the cutting of trees and shrubs to the ground each winter. Butterflies agree with this strategy because the caterpillars prefer the tender leaves of the newly stooled growth to the tougher leaves of an adult tree. My one huge mature specimen keeps everyone provided with winter food. With sharp eyes and luck, all seedlings are eradicated each spring, except for a lucky few that choose their landing spot well. These are maintained as stooled specimens that don’t bear berries and provide succulent leaves for the caterpillars. Stooled specimens are short-lived and after four or five years, they give up in frustration over not being allowed to achieve their genetic potential. No problem, because I can count on the choice of hundreds of replacements each spring. Perfect!

Lenora Larson gardens and hosts butterflies in the cruel winds and clay soil of Eastern Kansas.

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Common Hackberry Cultural Requirements
USDA Hardiness Zone: 2 to 9
Bloom Period: Not applicable
Bloom Color: Not applicable
Plant Height: 60 to 100 feet
Plant Spread: Rounded crown
Light Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Soil Moisture: Moist but well drained
Animal/Pest Problems: None

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Opportunities: Postdoctoral Position on Plant-Pollinator Interactions at Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research

Postdoctoral Position on Plant-Pollinator Interactions at Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research

Penn State’s Department of Entomology and Center for Pollinator Research seeks a Postdoctoral Research Associate to lead a USDA-SCRI funded project examining pollinator interactions with ornamental plant species. The candidate should have extensive experience in (1) working with honey bees (2) evaluating foraging behavior of bees (3) palynology and (4) use of molecular tools to identify plant species from pollen samples. The candidate should have excellent written and oral communication skills, the ability to collaborate with and coordinate the efforts of a large team of researchers from different universities, and a track record of publishing his/her work in scientific journals and presenting to broad audiences. Preference will be given to candidates with a PhD in Entomology, Biology, or related field. This is a one-year appointment, with possibility of extension. For more information, please contact Christina Grozinger, Professor, Department of Entomology, Penn State University, cmg25@psu.edu.

Apply at https://psu.jobs/job/67504

Humans of NABA: Alexander R. Meza

Our Humans of NABA series continues, with the National Butterfly Center’s groundskeeper and educator, Alexander R. Meza!

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Six years ago I was a sales representative getting paid ten dollars an hour selling home décor internationally, inside an air conditioned office. Living inside for half a decade I became depressed and unsatisfied. My mind and body were thirsty for something new, something exciting.

One day a good friend of mine mentioned a bird walk at the National Butterfly Center and, thinking nothing of it, I decided to give it a try. The next day I chose to return to work and immediately announce my two-week notice.

It’s been almost one year, now, observing nature and all its wild creatures. Feeding Green Jays and fox squirrels every morning with wild seeds and making fresh banana brew for the emperors and crackers in the hackberry trail.

Working at the National Butterfly Center and with the Captain has awakened my passion for nature photography and has changed my life. It feels great tending to a plant and talking to it only to see it bloom for you the very next morning.

I believe that nature is my therapy. I feel spiritually connected to the plants and wildlife, and I feel God led me to volunteer here, which ultimately led to my permanent job. I love having picnics under the Monarch Palapa and seeing all the chachalacas and queens circle around me.

My goal is to travel not only South Texas, but the world photographing wildlife. I dream of capturing something no one has ever seen before with my camera. I want to go back to school and get a degree in ornithology and be known for environmental conservation. I hope to one day help the people of South Texas wake up and realize that the Valley is not a boring place, but a wonderful, magical place full of insects, mammals, colorful birds and reptiles.
I am doing my part to protect this land for future generations to come. Me and my camera will change the world.

alex

Events: Broward County Butterfly Chapter meeting Nov. 15th

The Broward County Butterfly Chapter, BCBC, invites you to their Nov 15, 2016 meeting. Rose Bechard-Butman presents “How to Create a NatureScape, a Habitat to Attract Wildlife and Butterflies.” Rose is the NatureScape Broward Outreach Coordinator; a Certified Arborist; a Master Gardener and National Wildlife Habitat Steward. She serves on many local boards and organizes programs and community projects that support sustainable landscapes and wildlife habitats. Meeting starts: 7pm, social hour: 6.30pm at the Broward County Extension Office, 3245 College Ave., Davie, FL 33314. For further info visit our website: www.browardbutterflies.org or email BCBCmail@gmail.com.

Events: Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Butterfly Club

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The Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Butterfly Club will start with a pot-luck supper at 5:30 pm on Saturday, October 22, at Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook Visitor’s Center, 414 Massasoit Rd, Worcester, MA 01604. During this meeting we will celebrate the 25th ANNIVERSARY of the founding of the club. In lieu of a guest speaker, we’ll encourage attendees to reminisce about the special moments in the club’s history. Be prepared to share the funny, inspiring and meaningful experiences you’ve had that have made the club a special part of your life. And if you’re not a member of the club, you are most welcome to join us anyway if you’re interested in learning about this very special group of butterfly advocates

Taxonomy Tuesday: Lycaeninae (Coppers)

image(American Copper, Lycaena phlaeas, photographed by  Frank Model – 5/1/2007 Petersham, Massachusetts)
http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabambc/construct-species-page.asp?sp=american-copper
http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabanj/butterflies/american_copper.html

The first in our new series to better learn our butterfly taxonomy, we’ll take a look at the subfamliy of Lycaena, the gossamer-winged Coppers. Here’s a broad selection of them to check out! Notice the morphological similarities:

http://www.naba.org/images/lycaenidae/lycaeninae/lycaena_thumbnails.html

image(male Bronze Copper, Lycaena hyllus, photographed by Frank Model – 10/4/2007 in the Wayland Community Gardens, Wayland, Massachusetts)
http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabanj/butterflies/bronze_copper.html
http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabambc/construct-species-page.asp?sp=Lycaena-hyllus

image(female Bog Copper, Lycaena  epixanthe, taken 06/17/2010 in Ocean County, New Jersey)
http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabanj/butterflies/bog_copper.html
http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabambc/construct-species-page.asp?sp=Lycaena-epixanthe

Here’s the Massachusetts chapter’s big page on Coppers! Enjoy:

http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabambc/construct-group-page.asp?gr=Lycaeninae

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Butterfly Gardening: Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)

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(Cloudless Sulphur caterpillar hanging out on its host plant Chamaecrista fasciculata)

Also known as Showy Partridge Pea, Sensitive Plant, and Sleepingplant, Patridge Pea is native from southern Florida to northern Minnesota, It looks best when planted in groups and is easy to include in most medium to large size gardens. A short-lived perennial that is grown as an annual, partridge pea has bright yellow flowers that incorporate easily into many garden border combinations. Try pairing with liatris for contrasting colors and plant forms.

Partridge pea also provides pollen for a number of other insects and birds relish the seed pods that follow the flowers.

 

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(Via bonap.org, dark green areas represent where Partridge Pea is native, while light green areas represent where it is not native but common.)

Importance as a caterpillar food source: Cloudless Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and Little Yellow caterpillars all use partridge pea as a food source. All three of these butterflies range widely over the southern U.S., with Little Yellow’s range being restricted eastward.

Partridge pea is also used as a food source by Ceraunus Blue caterpillars which are common in far southern regions, usually late in the summer; found all year long in southern Florida and the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

Gray Hairstreak caterpillars also include partridge pea as a caterpillar food plant in addition to countless other plants.

Importance as a butterfly nectar source: A good nectar source that also attracts many pollinators in addition to butterflies.

Partridge Pea Cultural Requirements
USDA Hardiness Zone: Plant annually
Bloom Period: Summer to fall
Bloom Color: Yellow
Plant Height: 24 to 40 inches
Plant Spread:18 inches
Light Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Soil Moisture: Medium to dry
Animal/Pest Problems: None

 

Humans of NABA: Nestor Gonzalez

Nestor Gonzalez — Groundskeeper and Educator at the National Butterfly Center

“From the blistering cold, busy streets of Boston to the muddy backroads of sunny South Texas, I have been able to adapt to both lifestyles; however, I must admit that I was born for the outdoors. From the moonlit wee hours of the morning spent feeding our livestock to long hours of labor under the scorching skies in the gardens, here, it’s all good.

For a few weeks my career path was in Banking and Money Management. That is, until the day I came across an ad on Craigslist. I was so interested I applied. Little did I expect they would call within a week to schedule my first interview.

I was a nervous wreck that day. I was ill prepared, but so excited to go to the National Butterfly Center. It was March of 2014 and it had been raining. I didn’t care. Dress shoes and all I went trucking through the muddy Hackberry Trail. I couldn’t believe I saw an armadillo and all types of butterflies that I never knew existed.
I’ve been here about a year and a half, and now I educate kids about tarantulas! How cool is that? I have an African Spurred Tortoise for a best friend; and although I am sometimes embarrassed to admit I love the birds and butterflies, I can actually name a few.”

[Mike: Pictured below, Nestor and family! And a hungry turtle!]

nestor