Sunday, September 9, 2007

Butterflies on the Mind

I'm been having a thing about butterflies recently. So much so that I went out and bought this great book, Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, by Arthur M. Shapiro and Timothy D. Manolis. It's the kind of book that I interrupt my husband while we're sitting in the living room after dinner (he on his laptop, me reading) to say, "Honey, did you know that Red Admirals enjoy carrion, garbage,and bird dung?" He just shakes his head. The way I found out about the book was from my local independent bookstore, Book Shop West Portal. I was thumbing through the Audubon butterfly field guide, when the bookstore worker came up and told me about this other really great book that just came in about Bay Area butterflies, except they were out of it. He was so enthusiastic I decided to wait a couple of days until it came in. I could have just ordered it (cheaper) from Amazon, but that just didn't seem right. And this way I could peruse it live, in my hand, before deciding which one to buy. This one was the winner because along with clear, precise illustrations it has specific local information about species and flora.

Anyway, I have already learned that yes, Red Admirals like the unappealing fare mentioned above. They also do not all fly off to their winter homes in South Texas; quite a few overwinter here in our mild climate. July to October is butterfly season in the Bay Area, although sadly San Francisco is not the best place for butterfly watching: too windy and cold. Even so, we have 68 butterfly species recorded in the city alone; "by California standards its a poor fauna," the author says, but it's 80 percent of the total number of species recorded in all of the British Isles.

Yesterday there were two Red Admirals on my sunflowers at the same time--a pair?--but none today.

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