Wednesday, December 31, 2008

UCD professor again trades beer for butterflies

By Niesha Lofing

Sacramento Bee Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008

Free beer for a butterfly?


Arthur Shapiro, a professor at University of California, Davis, has launched his annual Butterfly-for-Beer contest and is hoping someone soon will turn in a live Cabbage White butterfly.
The contest, which has been going on for 38 years, rewards the first person to turn in a live Cabbage White with a pitcher of beer or its cash equivalent, a UC Davis news release states.
What's in it for Shapiro? He gets more biological data on the butterfly.

The Cabbage White butterfly, Pieris rapae, lives in the Central Valley and is white or buff-colored, about 1 1/4 inches long and might have a few black spots near the edges of its outer wings. Its underside is yellow with a gray hue. It often is spotted in vacant lots and by the side of roads where wild mustard grows, the release states.

Shapiro, who teaches evolution and ecology courses for the university's entomology department, has found that the butterfly is emerging about a week earlier than it did 30 years ago, a shift caused by climate warming, he says.

In past years, the first sightings of the butterfly ranged from Jan. 1 to Feb. 22. This year, the first specimen was caught Jan. 19. Cool, wet and cloudy conditions seem to delay the butterfly's appearance, while sunny and warm days speed it up, the release states. The contest is limited to adult butterflies captured outdoors in Sacramento, Solano or Yolo counties.

Butterflies must be brought alive to the receptionist in the Evolution and Ecology office, 2320 Storer Hall, with full information about the time, date and place it was found.
If a butterfly is captured on a weekend or holiday when the department office is closed, it can be stored alive for a few days in the refrigerator.

"Almost every year someone brings one in in May or June and asks 'Did I win?'" Shapiro wrote on his UC Davis-hosted Web site.

Charlie Bear's Note: I saw a fresh male cabbage white butterfly at the Yolo Bypass on December 11, 2007. I should have caught it and taken it to Art Shapiro for the beer!

The photo is from Wikipedia

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