Monthly Archives: June 2014

Better weather, and a tour of the site by Neil Bertrando

The weather is much better today, which should make for great butterfly activity in and around the house- stop by and see us!

Also, on Saturday, June 28th, starting at 9AM, Neil Bertrando (the owner of our site) will be giving a tour of his entire property, which will include the butterfly hoop house, but will also be much more, as he’ll discuss how his site is integrated into the surrounding landscape, as well as a detailed tour of the permaculture design elements all around the property. A longer description is below; this is sure to be a great time packed full of cool information and ideas. More information details are below. Hope to see you there!

Join us for a tour of Steppe One Farm, the home of Neil and Katie Bertrando, this Saturday, June 28th, from 9-11 am.  Steppe One Farm is a developing agroforestry based homestead ecosystem that was planned using the Permaculture and Keyline Design systems.  It is located 10.5 miles North of the Truckee River in Lemmon Valley, the terminal basin watershed that feeds Swan Lake, at 413 Matterhorn Blvd. Reno, NV 89506.  Directions Here

With Neil as tour guide, the group will explore the food forest, windbreaks, alley crop, animal systems, and more.  We’ll look at the beneficial linkages between these systems, including strategies for water harvesting and conservation, irrigation, soil building and fertility cycling, plant selection and spacing, integrated pest management, accelerating succession, season extension, and phased implementation.

You’ll also get a chance to check out the Butterfly House and interpretive trail developed in collaboration with Nevada Bugs and Butterflies.  The Butterfly House is stocked with all Native Butterflies and lots of flowering and food producing plants.  It embodies the practical application of a main goal of Steppe One Farm: to demonstrate the potential synergy created when agriculture is designed to mimic nature.  The hoophouse itself is mobile and adapted from designs by Eliot Coleman and plans at Johhny’s Seeds (  We’re excited to share our experience with this system and many others around the site.

Because the Butterfly House has open hours starting at 10 am, parking will be a little tricky.  We’re asking you to help us stay organized and to meet both your needs and those of others.  If you show up for the tour and plan to stay for the whole thing, please park in the roundabout driveway or along the road on the South Fenceline.  You can also park on Fir St. on the North boundary of the site if you want to be able to leave at any time.  Please be careful walking on Matterhorn Blvd. because people tend to drive very fast on weekends.

It will likely be hot and sunny, so please be prepared and bring your preference of tools to foster a comfortable and hydrated experience: for example, a sun hat, water bottle, and sunblock.  We do have red harvester ants as on-site residents, so closed toed shoes are recommended.

We’ll also have Loping Coyote Farms’ nursery plants for sale.  Some of the plants we currently have in stock are several varieties of Fruiting Mulberries, Yellow Cornelian Cherry, Purple Cherokee Tomatoes, Culinary Sage, Red Valerian, Comfrey, Creeping and Varico 2 Thyme, Hyssop, Dyer’s Chamomile, Ginko biloba (male and female), Sylvetta, Gold Button Yarrow, and Lemon balm.  Most herbs and vegetables are $5 each and most trees are $20 each.  We are also offering 5 mixed herbs or veggies for $20.
RSVPs are appreciated.  To RSVP, email neilbertrando (at)

We hope you’ll join us to enjoy the abundant colors, aromas, flavors, and sounds that enrich our lives in the high desert at the beginning of Summer.

With Gratitude,
Loping Coyote Farms and RT Permaculture

Weather update for the butterfly house today

Hi everyone! If you’re in the Reno area today, you’ll see it’s cloudy, cooler, and even a bit windy. This means a couple things:

1) visitors to the butterfly house should dress appropriately; we are an outdoor site and are exposed to the elements (which, honestly, is normally just bright sun in Reno), and

2) the butterflies may not be quite as active today. Butterflies like warm, mostly calm, sunny days, and they may not fly as much on days like today. We’ll still be open 10-3 but if you have the flexibility, you might wait till the sun breaks through.

You can check the local weather for Lemmon Valley here. And, as always, you can call and ask us if now is an ideal time to come visit at 775-276-1393. Thanks!

Pollinator week continues

Hi everyone! We had an amazing opening day today, with 32 people coming to see the butterfly house. We had such a great time meeting new parents and kids, and planting some anise hyssop seedlings too! We will be open tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday, 10-3, as usual, and we are continuing National Pollinator Week activities with the Great Basin Community Food Co-Op Friday from 6-8 including discussion with Dr. Anne Leonard from UNR. Details below, hope to see you at the butterfly house and the co-op tomorrow!

Pollinators are responsible for creating 1/3 of the food consumed by humans every day!

Pollinators are responsible for creating 1/3 of the food consumed by humans every day!

Opening Day at the butterfly house AND community events for National Pollinator Week!

Next week is a huge week for us at Nevada Bugs and Butterflies! Not only will the butterfly house open for 2014 on Thursday, but the whole week is National Pollinator Week, and Nevada Bugs is proud to be partnering with several local organizations, celebrating the bees, flies, beetles, butterflies, bats, and other animals that pollinate most of the world’s flowers as well as 1/3 of human food crops. Here’s the rundown:

  • On Tuesday, June 17th, we’ll be at the Discovery Museum from 10am-2pm, along with UNR professor Dr. Anne Leonard and her lab, showing off some of our local pollinators and a live bumble bee colony! We’ll also have pollinator seedlings for kids to pot and take home (somewhat limited quantity).
  • The butterfly house opens on Thursday, June 19th! We’ll be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10am-3pm. Come see some of Nevada’s beautiful spring and summer butterflies up close, surrounded by blooming flowers and growing vegetables. You can catch butterflies, grasshoppers, and beetles on the one-acre permaculture garden, observe many species of native bees, and check out our new wooden interpretive signs that are stationed around the property to learn about plants, animals, and garden landscape. Directions to our butterfly house can be found on the Come Visit Us page of our site.
  • On Friday, June 20th we’ll be at the Great Basin Community Food Co-Op from 5:30-7:30pm, where we’ll have a honey tasting with honey collected from different crops, short films about bee pollination and conservation, and a group discussion about local pollinators with Dr. Leonard. This is a great opportunity to learn about the biology and natural history of bees from an expert doing research on them right here in Reno!
  • Finally, on Saturday, June 21st, come on out to the butterfly house anytime between 10am-3pm and make your very own native bee house. These reed structures are easy to make and provide crucial nesting habitat for many different species of cavity-nesting bees. As always, this program is free of charge 🙂

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating your favorite pollinators, be they butterflies or otherwise, all this week and come see us at the butterfly house on the 19th!

Tubular flowers encourage pollinators like this bumble bee to dig deep for nectar, increasing the chance of the flower being pollinated.

Tubular flowers encourage pollinators like this bumble bee to dig deep for nectar, increasing the chance of the flower being pollinated.

Meet the Bugs: Milbert’s tortoiseshell

It’s prime time for raising butterflies here at Nevada Bugs; we’re getting ready for our opening day on June 19, and that means we need caterpillars, and fast! One species we’re raising now that you’ll be able to meet on opening day is the Milbert’s tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti), a beautiful brushfoot butterfly with a 2 – 2 1/2 inch wingspan. They are a fairly common species in riparian areas, marshes, trails, and occasionally roadsides, and range broadly across Canada and the western United States.


Milbert’s tortoiseshell. Picture from Butterflies and Moths of North America


Milberts’ caterpillars on stinging nettle (needles visible in background)

As with many butterflies, Milberts’ caterpillars can eat only a couple plant species, and in this case the most common local host plant is stinging nettle, Urtica dioica. This species is infamous for the painful sensation it leaves if you carelessly brush against it in the woods, and this is likely a good defense against small mammalian predators. We’ve learned to wear gloves when handling these plants!

Despite the drawback of handling nettle, these butterflies are a fun species to rear as caterpillars due to their somewhat unusual feeding behavior. As young larvae, until around the fourth instar, or molt, they feed in large groups, often covered in webbing to protect themselves and completely devouring a plant before moving on. Even as they age, they continue to congregate in groups, though they can form silk nests individually in the wild. They then leave the plant and wander off to find a safe place to hide and pupate, where they stay as a beautiful brown-green chrysalis with a copper sheen.

Caterpillars everywhere!

Caterpillars everywhere!

Milberts' chrysalis.

Milberts’ chrysalis. The Greek word chrysos means “gold.”

Milberts’ have a rapid development time, going from newly hatched to pupa in under 3 weeks. However, after pupation they are a fairly long-lived species, often living over a month. They exhibit two flight generations per year and will be active as adults until perhaps early October, when they’ll overwinter as adults. Be sure to see these beauties on our opening weekend!