West Sacramento Deputy Fire Chief hopes to inspire more diverse fire crews as she takes over as Fire Chief in Woodland

West Sacramento Deputy Fire Chief hopes to inspire more diverse fire crews as she takes over as Fire Chief in Woodland

By Daniel Wilson Early in her career, West Sacramento Deputy Fire Chief Rebecca Ramirez, who will take over as the first female fire chief for the Woodland Fire Department on Feb. 27, More »

A Day in the Life of A Palestinian Immigrant

A Day in the Life of A Palestinian Immigrant

By Stacy Grow A stay-at-home mother of three children, West Sacramento resident Nasreen F.’s life is currently filled with caring for her children and home. Born and raised near Jerusalem in a More »

Our Lady of Grace Parish Honors Sister Michael Henry on her 80th Birthday

Our Lady of Grace Parish Honors Sister Michael Henry on her 80th Birthday

By Jan Dalske for the News Ledger Parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Parish in West Sacramento gathered in the church hall last month to celebrate Sister Michael Henry’s 80th Birthday. Sister More »

 

Colorful neighbor: pipevine swallowtail

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 3, 2013 —

By Mary K. Hanson, Tuleyome Association —

It’s usually in March and April when these butterflies first emerge from their chrysalises and set out to feed on nectar and find suitable mates.  I look for them along the riverbanks and streams I visit in the spring, knowing I’ll find them on the plant for which they’re named.  I love their velvety black wings with their bright blue iridescence that winks in the sunlight as the butterflies do their early morning warm-up flights.

They really are one of the most recognizable butterflies in the region. When viewed from the top they are predominantly black with an iridescent blue sheen on their hind wings (which is brighter on the males than it is on the females) and white spots along the wing margins.  The underside of their wings boasts some bright orange spots surrounded by black and iridescent blue.  Can you name my favorite butterfly?

Only a pipevine will do for the eggs of the pipeline swallowtail butterfly, a native of local riparian areas (Photo by Mary K. Hanson)

Only a pipevine will do for the eggs of the pipeline swallowtail butterfly, a native of local riparian areas (Photo by Mary K. Hanson)

It is the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)!

The Pipevine Swallowtail’s body is fuzzy black with white spots.  Its long curling proboscis is used to feed on nectar from a variety of flowers and thistles, but the butterfly gets its name from the host plant on which it lays its tiny reddish-brown eggs: the California Pipevine, also known as the California Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia californica).   The flowers, which look like fat pitchers or calabash pipes, arrive just before the vines start sprouting their broad vaguely heart-shaped leaves.  Although the flowers look like those of some insectivorous (insect-eating) plants, the Pipevine isn’t an insect-eater.  Later in the season, when the flowers drop off, they are replaced by six-winged ribbed seed pods.

These vines can be found growing naturally in riparian zones (moist areas where forests meet streams and rivers) throughout the northern and central parts of the state, including the Sacramento Valley, Yolo County and Napa County.  Although they are not considered endangered, there are some areas where the vines have been exterminated as weeds or nuisance plants by those who do not recognize them or understand their importance to the local ecology.  And that is very bad news for the Pipevine Swallowtails.  The female butterflies will only lay their eggs on the vines; and when the caterpillars emerge, they feed exclusively on the Pipevine.  No other plant will do.  So, where the Pipevines are destroyed, so are the Pipevine Swallowtails.

[adrotate group=”10″] The caterpillars forage in groups when they’re young and then become more solitary as they age.  They go through stages called “instars” during which the caterpillar sheds its old skin, sort of like a snake, and emerges larger and darker.  The caterpillars, like the adult butterflies, are very recognizable.  They usually appear locally in April and May (but may be seen as late as September) gorging on the leaves, stems and pods of the Pipevine plants.   When newly hatched, the caterpillars are reddish-brown.  As they grow in girth and length, they then darken to a deep rich black with bright red-orange spines down their backs.  This black-and-red coloring mimics many species that are toxic or unpalatable to predators and this helps protects the Pipevine Swallowtails.  The vines and pods that the caterpillars eat contain a substance called aristolochic acid which is passed on to the caterpillars and is also carried in the bodies of the adult butterflies.  As additionally frightening deterrent, when aggravated the Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar rears up and disgorges bright orange “horns” from the top of its head which are slimed in toxic goo.

In May or June, the fully grown caterpillars start to hang themselves from the side of trees, fence posts, twigs or branches from silken threads they weave called “suspension loops”, and then form a chrysalis around their torpid bodies.  The chrysalises are usually brown, but can also be golden-brown or green when they’re first made.  When you find them, look closely at these tiny delicate works of art.  They have points and whorls, and an almost stained-glass-window quality to their architecture.  These special cases protect the metamorphosing caterpillars through the end year and into the next spring, when they will emerge again as butterflies.

Resist the urge to touch them.  To ensure that this intricate, complex, and beautiful cycle of life continues, it is essential to leave the eggs, caterpillars and their chrysalises wherever you find them.  Taking photographs is the best way to “take them home with you”.  There is a saying: “When you teach a child not to kill a caterpillar, you do as much good for the child as you do for the caterpillar.”  (Okay I made that up, but you get the point.)  It’s also essential that the habitat where the native Pipevines grow is protected – and that’s where you can make the greatest impact on behalf of these butterflies.  Remember that riparian zones are actually vital ecosystems that contain and support many tiny miracles – like the Pipevine Swallowtails – which need and deserve your respect and protection.  You can help safeguard the riparian zones in and around your community by supporting the efforts of your local conservation and environmental organizations.  Volunteer.  Donate your time and dollars when you can. Together we get things done.

Tuleyome Tales is a monthly publication of Tuleyome, conservation organization with offices in Woodland and Napa, CA. Mary K. Hanson is an amateur naturalist and photographer who is currently serves as Executive Assistant to Tuleyome’s Executive Director.  For more information about Tuleyome, go to www.tuleyome.org.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

West Sac CERT volunteers honored

 ABOVE: ‘Bronze’ emergency response volunteers Carol Davis, Buzz Jones, Joel Miller, Vyckie Lee, Alton Stewart, Sendy Cay and T.S. Elliott (Mike Tagupa is not pictured).


ABOVE: ‘Bronze’ emergency response volunteers Carol Davis, Buzz Jones, Joel Miller, Vyckie Lee, Alton Stewart, Sendy Cay and T.S. Elliott (Mike Tagupa is not pictured).

RIGHT : ‘Gold’ volunteer Randy Frank (at right) has donated more than 500 hours of his time to the Community Emergency Response Team in West Sacramento. Here, he’s congratulated by Battalion Chief Rebecca Ramirez as Fire Chief  Al Terrell looks on.  (Photos and information courtesy of West Sacramento Fire Department

RIGHT : ‘Gold’ volunteer Randy Frank (at right) has donated more than 500 hours of his time to the Community Emergency Response Team in West Sacramento. Here, he’s congratulated by Battalion Chief Rebecca Ramirez as Fire Chief Al Terrell looks on.
(Photos and information courtesy of West Sacramento Fire Department

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 3, 2013 —

As part of the annual awards ceremony for the West Sacramento police and fire departments this month, the WSFD honored a group of citizen volunteers who have trained as ‘CERTs.’

These “Community Emergency Response Team” volunteers are trained to help their families and community in the event of a community, and to support police and fire services.

[adrotate group=”7″] Eight of West Sacramento’s CERTs were recognized at the ceremony for achieving “bronze” status — donating at least 100 hours of community service.

Another, Randy Frank,earned a “gold” award for exceeding 500 volunteer hours.

[adrotate group=”9″]   The fire department’s CERT program is about to begin another round of recruitment and training. See the back page of this week’s News-Ledger for information.

 

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

 

Man killed in Evergreen Ave. accident

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — April 11, 2013 —

West Sacramento police say they’re investigating the death of a truck driver Wednesday morning at a business on the 3000-block of Evergreen Avenue.

Police, firefighters and CHP officers responded to the scene at about 11 a.m. on April 10.

“They found a semi-tractor, which appeared to have crashed through a chain link fence of the business and stopped at the side of I-80, just west of the Harbor Blvd. entrance,” said a press statement from Lieutenant Tod Sockman of the West Sacramento Police Department. “Pinned under the tractor, which was still running, the victim was found and pronounced dead at the scene. ”

The man was identified by the Yolo County Coroner’s office as 36-year old Vitali Dobick. West Sacramento police say he was from Rancho Cordova; the Yolo County Coroner’s office lists him as a Sacramento-area resident.  Dobick was an employee of the business, and he had been killed by the vehicle assigned to him at work, said Lt. Sockman.

An autopsy is planned for later today, reported Mark Persons of the Yolo County Coroner’s office.

[adrotate group=”7″]   “The circumstances are still unknown (as to) how the tractor ran over the victim,” said Sockman. “There were no other persons located at the scene.”

The apparent accident is under investigation.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Alvarez graduates USAF basic training

Airman Jaime Alvarez, a 2010 graduate of River City High School in West Sacramento

Airman Jaime Alvarez, a 2010 graduate of River City High School in West Sacramento

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 3, 2013 —

Air Force Airman Jaime F. Alvarez graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies.     Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

[adrotate group=”9″]     Alvarez is the son of Diane and Larry Herlihy of West Sacramento.

He is a 2010 graduate of River City High School.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013