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Natural History  

West Coast Lady
West Coast Lady
(Vanessa annabella)

Caterpillar hosts: Many plants in the mallow family (Malvaceae) including tree mallow (Lavatera), globe mallow (Sphaeralcea), bush mallow (Malvastrum), mallow (Malva), alkali mallow (Sida), checkerbloom (Sidalcea), and hollyhock (Althea).

Adult food: Flower nectar.

The West Coast Lady is usually found around open places including weedy areas, gardens, roadsides, fields, foothills, chaparral, disturbed areas.

Gardens Natural History

Data and Records
The Hallberg Butterfly Gardens has become an important source of butterfly data in the past two decades, as well as a repository for an extensive library of media clippings, photos, and books.

Louise kept records of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies since 1986 and this close observation gave her a unique insight to butterfly behaviors and population trends.

Louise also recorded detailed accounts of bird and plant life in the Gardens. For many years, migrating swifts nested in her chimney. Red-tail hawks and great-horned owls make the huge redwood/eucalyptus windbreak their home. Woodpeckers use a dead poplar as an acorn bank. Interactions on the land itself, and the recent habitat efforts, are well-documented and directly observable, providing a model for other gardeners, advocates, and preservationists.

Habitat Enhancement
Habitat loss is the number one threat to our native butterfly species. Their life cycle depends on the availability of host plants, open spaces that aren't sprayed with insecticides, and shelter for chrysalids. Moreover, as adults, butterflies are flying insects adapted to a large territorial range, if not actual migration. Understanding the needs of butterflies in all of their stages helps us understand the structure of good habitat and the importance of maintaining it.

To date, more than 40 varieties of butterflies are known to have visited the gardens. Attracted by the many flowers that offer nectar, the butterflies, in turn, help to pollinate the nectar plants. Female butterflies seek out larval food plants to lay their eggs. When the young caterpillars emerge, they can begin eating right away.

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