Art Shapiro didn't think Friday would be the day, but his former grad student called it perfectly.
Shapiro, a professor of evolution and ecology, won his own Beer for a Butterfly contest again when he captured the first cabbage white butterfly of 2018 on Friday (Jan. 19) on a trip to West Sacramento.
"Today should not have been the day," Shapiro said, noting a forecast of clouds and possible rain. "The first cumulus formed right at 11. At 11:23 I spotted a male Pieris rapae dorsal basking (sunbathing) on low vegetation. As I approached to collect it, a small cumulus occluded the sun and it closed its wings over its back — allowing me to just pick it up without using my net at all, and drop it into a glassine envelope. It turned out that that was the ONLY cloud that crossed the sun in the next 2½ hours!"
The cabbage white butterfly needs a string of warm days before it can emerge each year, and Shapiro has been tracking its first flight date for decades as a way to measure how animals respond to climate change. Last year, University of Nevada, Reno, Professor Matt Forister, who studied under Shapiro as a Ph.D. student, predicted Jan. 19 would be this year's first-flight date.
"For the record, next year you will find it on the 18th," Forister told Shapiro in an email last week.
Frats go vegan for a week
Two UC Davis fraternities are trying a different diet this week, and it's not one they're used to: Theta Chi and Theta Xi are taking part in peta2's Vegan Frat Challenge. Video above: See what Theta Xi members think of the pledge.
Olive oil health benefits highlighted
Olive oil isn't just a handy companion to bread or salad: It has health benefits, and producers want more people to know about them. The International Olive Council held a one-day conference last week to launch a national campaign touting those health benefits.
“They saw UC Davis as a desirable place to host the conference given the Olive Center’s national prominence and the conference’s potential to expand awareness of olive oil health benefits among American consumers,” Dan Flynn, executive director of the 10-year-old UC Davis Olive Center, told Olive Oil Times.