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Tuesday December 1, 2015
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by Donna M. Walker

Protecting California’s
Monarch Butterflies

Black and orange wings soar through the air for thousands of miles

… then flutter gracefully towards the ground where they find rest in southern and central California trees.

If there is one insect that has captured the heart of Californians, it is the Monarch Butterfly … unless of course, you happen to be an entomologist.

In that case, you probably find beauty in Jerusalem crickets – as only an entomologist could and would.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) Male – Note the two black spots on the bottom wings.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) Male – Note the two black spots on the bottom wings.

Map of Monarch Butterflies Fall Migration

Map of Monarch Butterflies Fall Migration

Migrating Monarchs

In southern California, once fall approaches, Monarch butterflies take refuge from their long journey south to the sheltering trees of San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties.

There are two populations of Monarch butterflies in North America that are separated by the Rocky Mountains; each with different migration patterns.

The Monarchs east of the Rockies migrate south to spend their winters in Mexico.

West of the Rockies, here in California, Monarchs migrate from Canada to the coast of central and southern California where they overwinter.
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Thursday May 28, 2015
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There is no Poop Fairy!

Normally, I wouldn’t use “pets and pests” in the same sentence but, our friendly companions do attract certain kinds of pests, especially dogs. OK, so maybe I’m biased since I’ve always had several cats, to the point of bordering on “Crazy Cat Lady” . . . but – cats cover it up, keeps the flies away you know. …
Cat and Dog on Play Date

Animal lovers absolutely love their pets; pets are part of the family but they are incapable of cleaning up after themselves! Dogs poop, cats puke. Lucky us – we get to clean it up!

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Thursday April 2, 2015
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bee drawing

 Bees in the Spring

Honey Bee on leaf

Spring is here

and the bees are gearing up their pollen baskets ready for the spring flower harvest. Springtime is the buzziest time for honeybees; all the flowers, including wildflowers, are in full bloom.


Are Honeybees Pests?


Honeybees only become a pest issue if they start making a hive in your attic or within 150 ft. of your home. Then they become a threat to the health of your family, especially if anyone is allergic to bee stings.

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Friday December 19, 2014
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Pests in California

Wintertime Pests in Southern California.

In Southern California, one of the ways you can tell its wintertime is when you see Californians remove their sunglasses! Otherwise, we natives (and those from afar) enjoy sunshine all year round, (wildlife and insects included).Winter in sunny Southern California is so mild that insects and wildlife enjoy not only the weather but the abundance of resources California has to offer, including our pantries. Plus, when the weather does turn cold and rainy (at least for California standards), insects and rodents are not shy about making your home their home during our short winter months. Read more


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Thursday December 4, 2014
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Winter has arrived in sunny California, just in time for the House mouse to find a warm and cozy place to build a nest. …

There’s a Mouse in the House!

Mice and humans have lived together for eons in a “commensal” relationship, meaning they live on the same premises and eat at the same table (sometimes, literally!).

People are often afraid of mice and given their propensity to carry disease, they probably should be but others have a love of mice and keep them as pets.

For decades, mice in literature have captured the imagination of both children and adults. Mice figures in anthropomorphic drawings depict them with human characteristics in stories about these tiny-tailed creatures.

One of the reasons mice are used in literature may be because we find story tales that represent these timorous critters who act so brave and bold (despite their small size) and we think, “If a little mouse can do it, so can I!”

Three mice and cheese

Three mice discussing how to get a very large
hunk of cheese back to their “living quarters.”

The History of Mice

The word “mouse” has been traced to the Sanskrit verb “musha” which means “to steal.”

The House mouse lived in Israel 12,000 years ago and was found in the first agricultural settlements in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

This adaptable creature followed the earliest migrations of people around the world as a stowaway in grain supplies.

Today, the mouse still prefers grains but will eat just about anything. And eat it does, 15 to 20 times per day!

Mice eating agricultural crops.

Mice were present in the first agricultural settlements of Mesopotamia and Egypt.

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Friday November 21, 2014
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Your Majesty the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

Bird poop larva of swallowtail

The mature caterpillar of the Giant Swallowtail is so disguised as to deter predators into thinking its just a piece of bird poop.

Once Upon a Time . . .

This is a story about an ugly caterpillar that turns into a beautiful majestic butterfly; but before this sad-looking caterpillar grows up, it goes through an unsightly, humiliating stage that resembles bird poop!

Larva from the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly is a greenish-brown with white blotches that look like bird poop; therefore, it is often referred to as the Bird Poop Worm or Bird Poop Caterpillar.

In the Beginning

The bird poop caterpillar started out as an orangey-yellow egg carefully placed atop a leaf by its lovely mother, a big beautiful black and yellow butterfly.

Mother butterfly chose the perfect leaf amongst the branches of a lemon tree.

Gradually, the pretty orange egg darkened in color then opened and out squeezed the caterpillar.

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Egg

The egg of the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly is orange in color.

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Wednesday October 29, 2014
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Butterfly or Moth?

These little butterfly-looking moths are the merriest of creatures. Skippers are considered butterfies but have traits of both moth and butterfly. Like moths, skipper bodies are a bit on the bulky side when compared to the slender butterfly. Who would have thought insects could have body types? The skipper is very alert and despite his or her plus-size frame, appears to skip through the air from flower to flower at a rapid pace!

Fiery Skipper close up

The Fiery Skipper has short antennae with clubs and a little hook on the end.

Dancing Skippers

Male and female Fiery skippers doing their courtship dance.

♪♫ Come Skip Through the Tulips with Me ♪♫♪

Skippers are in the family Hesperiidae, with over 3000 skipper species throughout the New and Old World but its the Fiery skipper that is most often spotted skipping through the air of California landscapes. Read more


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Wednesday October 22, 2014
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The Red Bugs are Coming! The Red Bugs are Coming!

There´s a New Bug in Town –

What is this “Red Bug” that´s been in the news lately?
Is it harmful to the landscape?
Does it bite?

Southern California has a new bug in town . . .

This one looks similar to the Red-shouldered and
Box Elder bug, except it is very, very, tiny in comparison.

Close up of Red Bug

Red Bug found in Ramona, CA
by Hearts Pest Management Supervisor, John Newkirk.

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Thursday October 2, 2014
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White Velvet Ants and the Creosote Bush

Did I just see a piece of fuzz run across the desert? What´s white with 2 puffs of fuzz, 6 legs, 2 antennae, and squeaks when disturbed? Did I mention the powerful and painful sting?

White Velvet Ant

Thistledown Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla gloriosa) Female

White Velvet Ants

This female White Velvet Ant isn´t an ant at all…..she´s a wasp! Velvet ants look like big hairy ants but they´re actually solitary living wasps.

The female has no wings and so, sad to say, she cannot fly but she sure can move fast.

Thistledown Velvet Ants blend in with the creosote bush because of their white hair which mimics the fuzzy “fruits” of the creosote.

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Friday August 15, 2014
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Stinking Stinkbugs

The Invasive Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

Here in America, we have our own native stinkbugs: of which, as kids I’m sure there isn’t a one of us that hasn’t harassed a stink bug long enough into rearing its hindquarters – just for the fun of watching it do so.

But, there´s a new bug in town – the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) .

The brown marmorated stinkbug is believed to have arrived in the country by accident via cargo ships from Asia.

brown marmorated stinkbug

The brown marmorated stinkbug has ruined many an apple.

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