In the News

Dr. Shapiro has been in the news on a number of occasions. This page points to some of these sources and also includes an RSS feed on the bottom so that one can stay informed of other news events. Please click the orange box at the bottom, then cut and paste the URL into your RSS feed program (such as Google Reader).

Looking Backward -- 2018

Click the link to download: Looking Backward 2018 (.pdf)

Looking Backward -- 2017

Click the link to download: LOOKING BACKWARD 2017 (.pdf)


Click the link to download: LOOKING BACKWARD 2016 (.pdf)

Looking Backward -- 2015

Click the link to download: LOOKING BACKWARD 2015 (.pdf)

Looking Backward -- 2014

Click the link to download: LOOKING BACKWARD 2014 (.pdf)


Click the link to download: SEPTEMBER SONG (.pdf)

Donner Summit Historical Society Newsletter featuring Butterflies

This issue of the of the Donner Summit Historical Society Newsletter features Art's butterfly study, and focuses on the Donner Pass collection site.

‘Butterfly man’ finds clues to climate change

In a functional classroom in a functional building on the UC Davis campus, Arthur Shapiro sits unassumingly in the corner. Rumpled, wearing well-worn Converse All Star tennis shoes, old jeans and a faded, zippered green hoodie, Shapiro could be just another student, except for his weathered face and bushy gray beard.

In fact, Shapiro happens to be one of the world’s leading butterfly experts, a “biodiversity guru,” as one of the students in the class puts it, or “a walking encyclopedia,” says another—and, as it happens, the mastermind behind one of the United States’ leading indicators of a changing climate as well as a changing landscape.

Read the rest of the story at

Painted Ladies, To Be or Not To Be?

Update: During the week of April 11, 5 more migrating Painted Ladies have been observed at various locations, all going N. There thus appears to be a migration afoot, but a minimal one!

Update: On March 12, 2011 at 11:54 AM, a Painted Lady in migratory mode, flying rapidly from SE to NW about 6' off the ground, was observed at Suisun City, Solano County--the first record this year known to me. It was small and pale, of the migratory desert phenotype.


I’ve begun receiving inquiries about whether or not to expect a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) migration this spring. In good years they would already be showing up, but there have been no reports so far anywhere in California, to my knowledge. The phenomenon depends on breeding success in the desert wintering grounds, which in turn depends on the rains producing a good crop of annuals for the larvae to feed on. After good late autumn and December rains, the tap was turned off for seven weeks—just like here—and the early annuals either dried up or froze. There were good rains over the President’s Day weekend—almost 2 inches at Anza-Borrego—which have already triggered another round of germination. But is it too little, too late? It all depends on March. 1992 had a very wet March after a dry midwinter. However, the northward migration is controlled by photoperiod (we think), and any butterflies that are around in March will head north rather than try to breed down south. So the timing is dicey. As of now, I would NOT expect a big flight here this spring.

Western Tiger Swallowtails

The "outbreak" of Western Tiger Swallowtails has continued for a second year. Elevated populations are reported at least as far east as Reno and as far west as Fairfield and Vallejo. The "epicenter" seems to be in Davis, however, where it has been on the wing every week since the last week of March, with no clear break between generations (very unusual), and at times in certain neighborhoods (e.g., College Park) one could see 5 or 6 individuals at one time. The phenomenon has attracted a lot of interest from the general public, which is unsurprising--and no, we don't have an explanation for it! (Wish we did.)

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