All Flights Lead to the Butterfly Summit

All flights lead to the Butterfly Summit.

Road trips, too.

Butterfly guru Arthur Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology,  will speak on "Are Butterflies Heralds of the Insect Apocalypse?" at the third annual Butterfly Summit, an all-day event that begins 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 27 at Annie's Annuals and Perennials, 740 Market Ave., Richmond.

It's free and family friendly and co-sponsored by the Pollinator Posse, a Bay Area-based volunteer group co-founded by Tora Rocha and Terry Smith.

Shapiro, a member of the UC Davis faculty since 1972, will address the summit at 11 a.m. He recently addressed a monarch butterfly summit at UC Davis at which he declared that "California monarchs are on life support." (See his presentation.)

Shapiro has monitored butterfly population trends in central California since 1972; his is the largest and oldest such dataset in North America. Shapiro, author of the book, Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento Valley Regions, maintains a research website at


Rocha lists the schedule as follows:

10 a.m.: "Bring the kids to see our caterpillars and adult butterflies, talk with our experts and share your experiences."

11 a.m.: Where have all the insects gone? Art Shapiro of UC Davis will share his thoughts on the insect apocalypse happening around the globe and discuss his research finds.

1 p.m.: Angela Laws, monarch ecologist from Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Mia Monroe, volunteer, will discuss how gardening practices can help the plight of the California monarchs

All day: Information tables.

Pollinator Posse: Tara Rocha and Terry Smith, along with Jackie Salas, horticulturist at Children's Fairyland, Oakland, will be available for questions.

Andy Liu:Liu, a landscape architect and garden designer specializing in butterfly habitat,  will explain why his neighborhood is alive with Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries and many other winged wonders.   

Tim Wong: Wong, an aquatic biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, is known as known as the "Pipevine Swallowtail Whisperer."

Andrea Hurd: Hurd, with the Mariposa Garden Design, will share her methods for designing meadows for butterflies. She specializes in songbird, butterfly, and pollinator habitat gardens using California native and pollinator-friendly plants.

Robin North: North, a garden designer specializing in pollinator and songbird habitat gardens in the North Bay, will share ideas for designing Sonoma County habitat gardens. 

Suzanne Clarke:  Clarke, a Sonoma County Master Gardener and "Butterfly Whisperer," will show how to rear caterpillars at her table and discuss the benefits of gardening for habitat.

Alameda County Master Gardeners:  They will be on hand to show how to garden for native pollinators.

Rocha and Smith formed the Pollinator Posse (see their Facebook page) in Oakland in 2013 to create pollinator-friendly landscaping in urban settings and to foster appreciation of local ecosystems through outreach, education and direct action. Rocha, a retired Oakland parks supervisor, said that eco-friendly landscape techniques are at the heart of their work. "We teach respect for the creatures which keep Oakland– and the world–blooming."

"We envision a day when life-enhancing, thought-inspiring green spaces will grace every corner of the city and the world beyond," she said.

See the metamorphosis of a monarch below: from egg to caterpillar to pupa (chrysalis) to adult.