The Bay Area is home to almost 150 species of butterflies, skippers, and moths—and to quite a few butterfly lovers as well. If you number yourself among that group, spring is high season. Here’s a sampling of local butterfly events:
The Bay Area is home to the largest concentration of butterfly counts in the country, many organized by local members of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). The counts occur in late June and early January, but dates haven’t been set yet (as of March 30, 2005). For the latest information on counts in San Francisco, the East Bay, and South Bay, contact Moe Magoski at email@example.com, (408) 410-7567. In the North Bay, contact J. David West at NBayButterfly@aol.com.
In the Marin headlands, you can help restore habitat for the endangered Mission Blue butterfly and learn about the other flora and fauna that inhabit the hills and bunkers of Fort Baker. This ongoing project meets Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Activities include removing invasive plants and planting natives. Tools, training, and refreshments are provided. Anyone is welcome. Find out more online or call (415) 561-4451 for more information.
Mark your calendar on Saturday, April 30, for the 6th annual Butterfly Day at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont. The festival, dedicated to increasing the numbers and species of butterflies in our Bay Area landscapes, celebrates these “flying jewels” with wildflower walks, garden tours, videos, face painting, and educational speakers. There will also be a special monarch butterfly release in the Nectar Garden. All ages are welcome. Phone (510) 795-9385 for more information. Find out more about the park at www.ebparks.org/parks/coyote_hills. Coyote Hills will also open the tranquil pathways of its Butterfly Garden to the public twice monthly from February through April. Join naturalist Jan Southworth to observe butterflies and hummingbirds as they take full advantage of this colorful garden at the peak of its flowering season. Also find ways to create wildlife habitat in your own backyard. Phone (510) 795-9385 for more information. Find out more about the park at www.ebparks.org/parks/coyote_hills.
If you find yourself further afield, stop to see stunning specimens of butterflies, moths, and a multitude of other insect species at the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology. The museum’s vast collection is the ninth largest insect collection in North America. The museum is open to the public Monday through Friday and group tours can be scheduled in advance. Visit http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or call (530) 752-0493 for more information.
To learn more about butterfly gardening, NABA has produced gardening brochures that provide information specific to the Bay Area. Learn which flowering plants produce nectar most favored by butterflies, and what plant foods caterpillars find irresistible, as well as other tips on how to attract both common and unusual species of Bay Area butterflies to your backyard garden. The six-page brochure can be downloaded for free or you can order a printed copy for $5. Visit their website for more information.