A Monarch Takes Flight

A monarch butterfly took flight at the third annual Butterfly Summit at Annie's Annuals and Perennials in Richmond, an event co-sponsored by the Bay Area-based Pollinator Posse.

No monarchs this time of year, you say?

Well, this one was little Saathiya Patel, 4, riding the shoulders of her Pollinator Posse-father, Seth Newton Patel of Oakland. When he tossed her in the air, she spread her wings!

What a joy to see!

Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, delivered his second annual presentation on butterflies, this one on "Are Butterflies Heralds of the Insect Apocalypse?" (more about that later).

Meanwhile, it's good to see the Pollinator Posse, co-founded by Tora Rocha and Terry Smith, helping out our beleaguered butterflies and native bees.

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, says 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," Rocha says.

This is a dedicated group, committed to making a difference, and what a difference they are making! Their activities include rearing monarchs and other butterflies; encouraging folks to plant the host plant and nectar sources; showing children how to make bee condos or bee hotels--AirBeeNBees--for native bees; and hosting "Tees for Bees," at which youths visit golf courses to hit pollinator friendly seed balls "which help make the courses more habitable for beneficial insects," Rocha says. (See news story on Best Garden Whiz and Butterfly Savior: Victoria 'Tora' Rocha.)

Tora Rocha and her fellow Pollinator Posse love it when monarchs take flight. So do we. And so does Pollinator Posse member Seth Newton Patel and his daughter, Saathiya, already a monarch enthusiast at age 4.