FREE native plant course– attract pollinators to your yard!

We are proud to announce a free native plant course taking place out at our butterfly house on May 17th 1-4pm, created as a partnership between Nevada Bugs, the US Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat program, and RT Permaculture. The topic of this course will be using plants native to Nevada to attract the many different types of beneficial insects that are in our area. Topics will include plant choice and planting techniques that will maximize your site’s usefulness to native insects, an introduction to native insect identification and conservation, and a special highlight on monarch butterfly conservation. Our site owner, Neil, will also lead a tour of his 1-acre permaculture garden, which has many great examples of how to use native plants to attract beneficial insects. In addition, you’ll go home with a set of native plants to plant at your home– for free!

Native insects have several important functions for natural areas and your own back yard– pollination of many crops, control of pest insects, and nutrient cycling to name a few. Many native insect species, like our native bumblebees, are threatened by habitat loss as well as habitat fragmentation, where each habitat patch becomes smaller and less connected to other patches. Increasing pollinator-friendly plants and creating habitat for insects are the best ways to conserve the native species that help make our landscape productive, diverse, and unique. Native plants will also use less water, remain hardier, and be more pest and disease-resistant than many nonnative plants.

The course size is limited, so email Kevin to reserve your spot and help make a difference in conserving our native plants and pollinators! pollinator plant wksp flier

2015 Permaculture Design Class- with pollinators!

Even though the butterfly house is hibernating for the winter, we are  excited to teach the public about invertebrates and their importance in our landscape all year long. This year, our friends at RT Permaculture (Neil Bertrando, our site owner) and Urban Roots Garden Classroom have partnered to teach an all-year Permaculture Design Certification in Reno. This course is a introduction to the principles and application of permaculture, which integrates geography, agriculture, forestry, soils, ecology, architecture, hydrology, animal husbandry, and more to facilitate the design of resource producing ecosystems. One of our design goals is to meet human needs while improving ecosystem health. Permaculture design can be applied at any scale and in any context: commercial or home scale, in wet or dry climates, you name it.  The outcomes in each case will be different, but the whole systems design approach is the same.

In addition to Neil’s excellent instruction, there will be two guest instructors, one of which is Nevada Bugs’ own Kevin Burls! He’ll be teaching classes on April 23rd and 25th dealing with ecological communities, focusing on the role of pollinators for nutrient cycling, food webs, and permaculture applications. In addition to Kevin, Kyle Chandler-Isacksen will also be guest teaching. Kyle is an urban homesteading innovator and natural builder extraordinaire.  He and his family run the local Be The Change project, a community-building urban homestead.

The full schedule for the course is shown below. Though the design certificate requires taking all the classes throughout the year, you don’t have to take the full course to take the classes that interest you the most. In fact, you can get a discount over the listed price by purchasing a discount card worth 25% off for taking a subset of courses of your choice. Read all the details on Urban Roots’ website.

 

Thank you for another amazing year!

East Humboldt mountains, Nevada, November 23rd, 2014

East Humboldt mountains, Nevada, November 23rd, 2014

On behalf of Nevada Bugs and Butterflies, Cynthia and Kevin, and our board of directors, we’d like to wish all our visitors, volunteers, and donors happy holidays and offer a heartfelt thank you for all your support throughout 2014! Thanks to your generosity, we sold 141 t-shirts during our recent fundraiser, raising a total of $1488 and putting a fantastic finish on an already amazing year. We are proud to use this money to provide hands-on experiences with science and living things throughout the year, and we are excited to meet many new families in 2015.

Celebrating Nevada’s diversity in 2014

Nokomis fritillary

Nokomis fritillary

Tessie and Watson, our Mohave desert tortoises

Tessie and Watson, our Mohave desert tortoises

Happy visitors!

Happy visitors!

Juba skipper

Juba skipper

If you didn’t get a chance to donate by purchasing a t-shirt, it’s not too late to make your end of the year contribution. It’s now easier than ever to donate- you can donate securely online using PayPal directly from the Support Us page of our website. Checks can also be mailed to: Nevada Bugs and Butterflies, PO Box 21484, Reno, NV 89515. We received our 501(c)3 federal non-profit status in October, meaning your donations are tax-deductible. Your financial support continues to be the heart of our success at the butterfly house, and we encourage you to help us extend our reach in the coming year with your donation.

See you in the summertime!

See you in the summertime!

T-shirts for everyone!

Each time we set out a fundraising goal, we are surprised by the generosity of our amazing supporters, and this time was no exception. In just over two weeks we sold 141 of our logo t-shirts and received numerous additional donations, raising a total of $1488! We are grateful to supporters both new and old, and can’t wait to see all those shirts around town in 2015. The money raised from this will go directly into funding the daily operation of the butterfly house next summer. These expenses include everything from supplies to care for our butterflies and create interactive activities at the butterfly house, to insurance and printing costs for our butterfly guides.

During the fundraiser, we had a lot of fun dressing up some different characters in Nevada Bugs t-shirts, and we put these up on Facebook. But, for posterity, we thought we’d put a few of them up here too. Thank you again, and enjoy!

Stand out from the flock!

Stand out from the flock!

Or stand out from the herd! (We were feeling punny)

Or stand out from the herd! (We were feeling punny)

Our shirts go well with mountains!

Our shirts go well with mountains!

Our friend Bertram posed as an entomologist

Our friend Bertram posed as an entomologist

 

Nevada Bugs t-shirt fundraiser!

2014 was a big success for Nevada Bugs & Butterflies: in one season alone we quadrupled the number of visitors to the Butterfly House & Science Center! Besides welcoming 884 visitors to the butterfly house, we also connected with 2,814 budding scientists who joined us at outreach events held in local schools, libraries, and museums. We’re asking for your support as we extend our reach even further with our end-of-the-year fundraiser. Help us prepare for 2015 by purchasing your own Bugs and Butterflies t-shirt! Shirts are American Apparel and are available in men’s, women’s, children’s, and toddlers’ sizes. They make great gifts and will be delivered in time for the holidays!

For adult men and women, go here: http://www.booster.com/nevadabugs_grown-up

For children and toddlers, go here: http://www.booster.com/nevadabugs_kids

Because of logo scaling issues, adult and children’s t-shirts are being sold through two different campaigns.

Sure, the butterflies won’t fly again until springtime, but our plans take wing over the winter, when we focus on developing new programming, researching curriculum, training volunteers, and securing supplies for the summer to come. Additionally, outreach in classrooms and community centers continues through the winter months. Your donations allow Nevada Bugs to provide hands-on experiences with Northern Nevada’s native insects all year long!

Sale ends December 5th; get your shirt before it's too late!

Sale ends December 5th; get your shirt before it’s too late!

 

Move viewing- Microcosmos- November 18th

Come join us for a beautiful, artistic look at insects! We’ll be visiting our friends at Artemisia MovieHouse, Reno’s alternative for independent, foreign, and classic films, as they show the 1996 French art documentary Microcosmos! This film is a fascinating and beautiful look at insect life using extreme close-ups, slow-motion and time-lapse photography. The film is a winner of 9 awards including Technical Grand Prize at Cannes. The film will be shown Tuesday, November 18th @ 7pm, at the Good Luck MacBeth theatre, 713 S. Virginia St. Admission is $7/$5 for Artemisia members, bicyclists, and students. We’ll have our bugs to hang out with and hold after the show. Hope to see lots of people there!

Directed by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou

Directed by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou

Animal Ark Stampede 5K Saturday, Oct 11th

Even though the butterfly house has closed for the season, Nevada Bugs is active all year round, and we love to support other Reno area causes. That’s why we’re excited to hang out this Saturday, October 11th, at the 2nd Annual Animal Ark Stampede 5K. We’ll be there with a few live bugs and generally supporting Animal Ark and the hundreds of runners. The course takes participants through the Animal Ark wildlife sanctuary and around the beautiful surrounding hills, and there is also a kids’ fun run. Course details can be found on their website– late registration is only $40! We hope to see you there!

Animal Ark Summer

End of the season approaches!

It’s been a little while since our last post here, but it’s only because we’ve been delightfully busy! Since we returned from Arizona, we saw 700 people at a set of Washoe County Library visits, and have had a variety of groups and families visit the butterfly house.

Of course, the other big news is that the end of our open season is nearing– we have just two weekends remaining, with our last open weekend being September 25th, 26th, and 27th. But, we’re going out with a special event- we’ll be tagging and releasing monarchs on all three of our last open days between 11am and 1pm! We have been raising caterpillars that will join the migration to the west coast, and we are going to contribute our little bit to monarch migration research by tagging (with small identification stickers) and releasing adults from the butterfly house property. These tags may then be recorded by observers at the overwintering grounds, helping researchers understand where monarchs from our area migrate to, and how long it takes. We’d love for you to join us and help us release these amazing creatures into the wild.

Sometimes at the butterfly house, it’s just nice to take pictures :) The butterflies make great subjects, and there is always something interesting going on around the garden. So, without further ado, we present a small portfolio of late summer at the butterfly house.

One of our desert tortoises, Watson, dining on clover flowers

One of our desert tortoises, Watson, dining on clover flowers

Checkered skipper and buckeye, bonding time

Checkered skipper and buckeye, bonding time

Just a sample of Neil's gardening handiwork, including grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, uber-hot peppers, seaberries, raspberries, and gooseberries! Superfood galore!

Just a sample of Neil’s gardening handiwork, including grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, uber-hot peppers, seaberries, raspberries, and gooseberries! Superfood galore!

We found the cutest horned lizard baby across the street

We found the cutest horned lizard baby across the street

Some of our amazing visitors :-D

Some of our amazing visitors :-D

Mutualism in action! These ants is harvesting sugar water from this Lycaeides caterpillar.

Mutualism in action! These ants are harvesting sugar water from this Lycaeides caterpillar, and also act as good defenders if a potential predator wanders along.

Longhorn bees, a set of solitary native bee species, are

Longhorn bees, a set of solitary native bee species, are important sunflower specialist pollinators, and also use the sunflowers as a resting place.

We went mothlighting with the folks at the Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences near Boca reservoir and had a great time!

We went mothlighting with the folks at the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science near Boca reservoir and had a great time!

 

One of our visitors found a western toad taking up residence outside the butterfly house- right under a drip irrigation emitter!

One of our visitors found a western toad taking up residence outside the butterfly house- right under a drip irrigation emitter!

We found this male and female orb weaver together... in our butterfly house. We relocated them outside!

We found this male and female orb weaver together… in our butterfly house. We relocated them outside!

The Jerusalsem artichokes are in full bloom, attracting numerous bees and flies. A great permaculture plant, providing food for humans and insects.

The Jerusalem artichokes are in full bloom, attracting numerous bees and flies. They are a great permaculture plant, providing food for humans and insects.

The kids from Triad Elementary came and release 60 painted lady adults into the house, where they basked in the sunlight and dined on old fruit, a favorite of nymphalid butterflies.

The kids from Triad Elementary came and release 60 painted lady adults into the house, where they basked in the sunlight and dined on old fruit, a favorite of nymphalid butterflies.

A copper on one of our Dyer's chamomile

A copper on one of our Dyer’s chamomile inside the house…

While a large two-tailed swallowtail necatared outside on an Echincacea flower

…while a large two-tailed swallowtail nectared outside on an Echinacea flower

We’d love to see you at the butterfly house before we close for the winter, so come on out: we’re open 10 – 3 Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays till the end of September!

Arizona Conference Highlights

Wow, what a rush! We just got back from our conference in Rio Rico, Arizona (the Invertebrates in Education and Captivity Conference) on Monday, and we were back at the butterfly house today. (As a side note, the butterfly house is looking GREAT, with lots of butterflies and the garden is in full bloom and berry harvest.) We had an amazing time, and met many great people in the captive rearing/educational invertebrate profession. This includes animal keepers and managers of zoos, butterfly houses, and natural history museums; as well as population biologists raising and studying endangered species; education researchers; and myriad others, like National Parks Service employees and wildlife photographers.

We started right off with catching bugs, on an all day adventure titled the Swing-n-Sweat! Starting in typical Sonoran Desert mesequite/acacia/cholla cactus habitat, we found large cactus longhorn beetles. We traveled around the Coronado National Forest, spotting giant water bugs, pipevine swallowtails, stag beetles, and tarantula hawks, among many others.

In the desert looking for cactus longhorn beetles

In the desert looking for cactus longhorn beetles

Cactus longhorn beetle, Monoeilema gigas

Cactus longhorn beetle, Monoeilema gigas

Female stag beetle that was hiding in a rotting log- prime beetle habitat

Female stag beetle that was hiding in a rotting log- prime beetle habitat

These tiger beetles were flying all over the banks of a small pool

These tiger beetles were flying all over the banks of a small pool

 

The next morning consisted of some great talks about citizen science projects being done around the country, like Bumble Boosters; followed by another afternoon and evening of bug hunting! This trip revealed new treasures like an 8-inch long red-headed centipede Scolopendra heros, and this 7-inch wide poplar sphinx moth that we attracted with a blacklight. There be big bugs in the desert! The monsoons made for amazing light and a wonderful rainstorm, cooling off the 105+ degree temps.

Scenery from the second day's trip

Scenery from the second day’s trip

Another stop on the second day was not only pretty but also had...

Another stop on the second day was not only pretty but also had…

Scolopendra heros, the giant red-headed centipede. Packs a very painful venom, so stand back!

Scolopendra heros, the giant red-headed centipede. Packs a very painful venom, so stand back!

It was gorgeous!

It was gorgeous!

Scorpions do in fact glow under UV light

Scorpions do in fact glow under UV light

Poplar moth, Pachysphinx modesta, a large and beautiful moth

Poplar moth, Pachysphinx modesta, a large and beautiful lepidopteran of the night

We attended a great workshop about making exhibit displays, listened to talks from fellow educators who run outreach programs, and Kevin gave a talk introducing Nevada Bugs and Butterflies and what makes us special to the group. The conference ended with a banquet and dancing amidst an astounding lightning storm outside the hotel. We left with our heads full of new ideas for displays, new techniques for keeping our insects happy, and new friends. Finally, we stopped by the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum outside Tucson, for some final inspiration with place-based, desert biodiversity education. It is an amazing museum and if you are in the Tucson area you should save a morning in your schedule to walk through beautiful gardens. Thanks to all who made this such a great conference and we look forward to coming back next year!

Flowers at sunset

Flowers at sunset

View from the Sonoran Desert Museum

View from the Sonoran Desert Museum

The Sonoran desert region is not that dissimilar from our Great Basin; just hotter. And actually wetter- Reno gets 7.5 inches of rain per year for comparison. The monsoons give enough water to support amazing (if seasonal) plant and animal diversity in the desert.

The Sonoran desert region is not that dissimilar from our Great Basin; just hotter. And actually wetter- Reno gets 7.5 inches of rain per year for comparison. The monsoons give enough water to support amazing (if seasonal) plant and animal diversity in the desert.

We'll miss you Arizona!

We’ll miss you Arizona!

 

We’re going on a trip!

Hi everybody! For the next week we’ll be going to the Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference (IECC) meeting, presented by the Terrestrial Invertebrate Taxonomy Advisory Group (TITAG). This conference brings together educators, photographers, zookeepers, exhibit designers, consultants, and other professionals that use invertebrates in their work from across the United States. The conference is located in the tiny town of Rio Rico, Arizona, just 15 miles north of the border with Mexico.

Neither Kevin nor Cynthia have been south of Las Vegas in a car!

When the monsoons come in July, it brings a flush of vegetation, and with it, a flush of insects. Not to mention the Sonoran desert nocturnal wildlife, which is amazing. Kevin is presenting a talk on Saturday about Nevada Bugs during the education section, and we are looking forward to learning a lot during the day and seeing lots of amazing bugs in the hot desert sun. Look for pictures from the trip on our Facebook account!