Native Bee Talk by professor and author Joseph Wilson on May 12th

We are very excited to announce the next activity in our spring lineup, a talk by professor and author Joseph Wilson titled “Get to know the bees in your backyard.”

Bees are arguably one of the most important insect groups on the planet, but despite their importance they are remarkably misunderstood.  For example, it is commonly thought that the U.S. and Canada are home to just a handful of bumble bees, sweat bees, and honey bees.  In fact, there are over 4,000 species of bees native to the North America! This talk aims to dispel the common myths of bees, and will provide engaging accounts of the bees encountered in this region of the world, with clues for telling these stunning creatures apart.

Dr. Wilson is an assistant professor of biology at Utah State University Tooele and author of the newly published book The bees in your backyard: A guide to North America’s bees. Copies of the book will be for sale and Dr. Wilson will be signing books following the talk.

This free talk will be held on Thursday, May 12th at 6:30 pm at the Wilbur D. May Museum (inside Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno). The talk is co-sponsored by Nevada Bugs and the UNR Museum of Natural History. It’s sure to be a great time, packed with information and beautiful pictures, and we hope many of you will join us! Send us an email if you have any questions.

Joe's book is also available for purchase from Amazon

Joe’s book is also available for purchase from Amazon

Winter life for the insects

As we all enjoy some much-needed snow (and warm days in between!) this winter, one of the most common questions we get is about how insects survive the winter. And, as with other parts of insect biology, there are a wide variety of strategies. Using butterflies as examples, each species has its own strategy to survive from one fall to the next spring, or a way to ‘overwinter.’ Check out the pictures below to see how some Nevada butterflies overwinter!

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One of the most famous strategies is migration to warmer locations, just like birds. The monarch migrates in the fall from northern latitudes to specific locations in central Mexico, southern Arizona, or coastal California, with the same individuals flying north again in the spring.

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Painted ladies may overwinter in warmer areas as well, with populations reproducing all year long in warm climates and some individuals moving north each spring.

 

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Buckeyes are similar to painted ladies; they may re-colonize the same area over and over as it warms up from spring into summer, sometimes returning in huge numbers.

 

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The Melissa blue overwinters as an egg. In late summer, the adult Melissa blue will lay an egg on its hostplant (the plant required by caterpillars to survive), lupines or milk-vetches, and the egg will wait to hatch until the following spring when the plant begins to grow again. When the caterpillar emerges, it will be ready to eat!

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The common ringlet overwinters as a caterpillar. Often the caterpillars will roll up inside dead leaves, or tuck in tightly at the base of their hostplant (for the common ringlet that is native grasses), and come out of hibernation when the warm weather returns.

 

The Stillwater Foundation awards grant to Nevada Bugs!

We are very pleased to announce that Nevada Bugs has been awarded a grant from the Stillwater Foundation, located in Reno, Nevada! The Stillwater Foundation seeks to promote global well being by supporting organizations that provide youth development and education, contribute to medical research and outreach, and promote environmental stewardship. We are proud that our outdoor science center and outreach programs serve as educational resources for the community in and around Reno. With the science center and butterfly house closed for the winter after a third hugely successful season, our organization’s work continues with outreach events at schools and youth groups throughout the year. We are also already planning for next year’s season at the science center and beyond, including educational workshops about pollinator identification and conservation and the creation of a citizen science butterfly monitoring program to be a part of the North American Butterfly Monitoring Network. Funds from organizations like the Stillwater Foundation go directly into this programming and we are so thankful for their support of our mission!

Pygmy blue butterfly, Quail Valley Road, Reno, November 8, 2015

Pygmy blue butterfly, Quail Valley Road, Reno, November 8, 2015

Second annual monarch tag and release event, Sept. 10-12, 17-19

The end of our butterfly house season is fast approaching (can you believe only two more weekends?), and we are closing out with a fun family event. On our last two sets of open days, Sept. 10-12 and 17-19, we’ll be having our second annual monarch tag and release event! This is part of a citizen science project called the Southwest Monarch Study, aimed at understanding and conserving the monarch migration of the western United States. We’ll have a short introduction to monarch biology followed by tagging an adult monarch that will be released to migrate south towards the coast of California. These tags can then be recorded by observers in their overwintering habitats, such as Pacific Grove and Pismo. We’ll have a presentation once an hour from 10:30-2:30 each day (weather permitting). This is a great opportunity to see the butterfly house and garden in the beauty of late summer and learn more about this beautiful and endangered native butterfly. Hope to see you there!

Come help us support this great citizen science program!

Nevada Bugs awarded a Helen Close Charitable Foundation Grant!

We are proud to announce that Nevada Bugs and Butterflies was chosen as a grant recipient of the Helen Close Charitable Foundation, located right in Reno, Nevada! Their generosity will go directly towards quality hands-on science education for youth and families at our outdoor science center and at outreach events throughout 2015. As always, our science center and butterfly house are free to the public and all groups, and contributions from individual donations and grants continue to make our work possible. We are so thankful for the support of the Helen Close Charitable Foundation, and look forward to sharing the wonders of insects with local families throughout the year!

Butterfly house update; closed on July 4

Wow, time flies! We had an amazing first week on June 18, and we have been so happy to see many returning families and meet many new ones as well during our first few open days. The butterfly house and garden are looking awesome, so please do come and see us sometime soon! Just as a reminder, we are closed on July 4th but are otherwise open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10am – 3pm until Sept. 19th. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to schedule a group tour; as always families are welcome anytime during our open hours. See you soon!

Buckeye, Junonia ceonia

Buckeye, Junonia ceonia

Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui

Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui

Fritillary, Speyeria sp.

Fritillary, Speyeria sp.

 

Opening day approaches, and National Pollinator Week 2015

It’s been a bit since our last post, but it’s only because of all the good things happening– Cynthia, Kevin, and all our board members and volunteers are busy preparing for our 2015 opening day on June 18th! New signs and interactive activities are being made, the butterfly house is being readied, and we have many cute caterpillars in the lab, growing and pupating and getting ready to show off for everyone in less than two weeks. (Side note: if you’re interested in a group visit to the butterfly house, please email Kevin as summer days are filling up fast already!)

In addition to our opening day on the 18th, this next week starting June 15th marks the beginning of National Pollinator Week, and there are several great events in Reno celebrating the amazing work that native pollinators do for us every day. On Saturday, June 13th from 1-4, Urban Roots will be hosting a pollinator fair including hands-on activities, pollinator-product tasting stations, and a Spelling Bee, as well as info sessions on native pollinators and how to attract them. Then, on Wednesday, June 17th from 10am-1pm there’s a pollinator celebration at the south end of the UNR Campus, right outside the Natural History Museum on our brand new pollinator garden, installed with the help of the great folks at the Nevada office for the Fish & Wildlife Service. There will be garden tours, native bee and butterfly specimens, a caterpillar and beetle petting zoo, poster and plant giveaways, native bee house making, and more. Both events are free and are a great chance to learn how to support the thousands of native pollinators in the Great Basin. Hope to see many of you at one of these events, and then at our opening day on June 18th!

Pollinator Fair Flyer2

Urban Roots event, June 13th

UNR pollinator flyer 2015

UNR event, June 17th

 

FREE native plant course– attract pollinators to your yard!

Update: We’ve filled our course! Thanks for all those who are interested. Given the number of requests we received, we will almost certainly offer another course later in the year, so keep an eye out as the season progresses.

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!