As an entomologist and avid insect collector/photographer, the months of January and February in Davis have not been so kind. The constant rain, wind, and cold weather have really put a damper on the amount of outdoor exploration I have been meaning to take part in. In general there isn’t much insect activity during these months but on the few sunny days that do appear in these months, sometimes one can be pleasantly surprised as to what can be found. Thankfully for me, I have been practicing some macro photography techniques with some of the specimens from my personal collection in preparation for the spring and any sunny days that seem promising for outdoor adventures.

One of the many different flowers that were blooming in February.

The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Gardens is a unique place near my apartment in Davis, and is home to many different species of plants both native to California and from around the world. In previous years I did not visit the Arboretum often during the winter but after a few visits in January and February I realized what I had been missing. It came as a surprise to me that there were some flowers blooming at this time, as well as a few insects buzzing around. Most of the flowers that were blooming were California natives or plants that had been naturalized, including rosemary, daffodils, ceanothus. Thankfully, there were quite a few different insects around to observe and photograph.

After some more intense rain events that bulldozed their way through the northern California, another few days of sunshine and somewhat warm temperatures arrived. During those few days of sunshine I headed out to the same area in the Arboretum as before and found some new insects that decided to make an appearance and take advantage of the warm days. Treehoppers, native bees, and larger hover flies made some brief appearances in the area. The native bees and larger hover flies did not appreciate their photos being taken, so I was unable to get any good shots of them. Fortunately for me, the treehoppers decided to cooperate and were a lot more photogenic than I first thought.

These treehoppers (Family: Membracidae), were very quick flying and would hop away very fast when approached to rapidly. I slowly moved in closer to them in order to take photos and it seemed to work well!

After spending a few sunny days at the Arboretum, I can safely say that the quickly approaching spring will bring out a lot of flowers and even more insects. Visiting the Arboretum in winter was never something that appealed to me due to the lack of insects during this time, but I can say now that I will do this more often in the future. The lack of insects was made up for by some great displays of winter blooming flowers, and that is enough for me to continue to visit the Arboretum in during the winter season. After seeing everything that came out for those few sunny days I visited the area, one can only hope that the spring will be ten times more abundant with insect activity.