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S E C T I O N Community S TO R I E S A B O U T P E O P L E A N D E V E N T S I N T H E C O M M U N I T Y Volunteers wage a pitched battle with invasive grasses Butterflies& Edgewood Park Photos by Michelle Le Story by Dave Boyce O n the infrequent occasions that Woodside’s Edgewood (County) Park hosts a springtime rabble of Bay Checkerspot butterflies, they flit and flutter above fields of tiny flowers for 10 to 15 days, searching for mates and nectar. Each fertilized female will lay some 400 eggs at the base of the stem of the California dwarf plantain, if she can find one. With their missions complete, the butterflies then die. Of those 400 eggs, two typically make it through the creepy crawly stage to hibernation and maturity, says park volunteer Bill Korbholz. In theory, the ecology works. The butterflies choose Edgewood because it is home to the right flowers. If the flowers are prolific, the caterpillars can find the right leaves to eat and make it through hibernation. But this breeding cycle, when it is successful, is now due in great part to intervention by park volunteers. For example, on a spring day a year or so ago,volunteers tried to jumpstart the process by releasing 4,000 to 5,000 Checkerspot caterpillars brought in from a South Bay park. The flowers the caterpillars feed on face fierce, and unfair, competition for space and water in Edgewood’s meadows. While the meadows appear pastoral, the serenity is an illusion. Oat grass and Italian rye grass, both invasive species, push out the flowers. Fighting on behalf of the flowers, the San Above left: Bill Korbholzt, is an Edgewood Park volunteer who leads tours and works to advance the survival prospects of the endangered Bay Checkerspot butterfly, which used to thrive up and down the Peninsula. Above: The leaves of the tiny California Dwarf Plantain are one of two vital sources of nourishment for Checkerspot butterflies during their caterpillar stage. Below: A field of flowers at Edgewood Park indicates soil composition that may inhibit invasive grasses. See EDGEWOOD PARK, page 23 April 24, 2013NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN21

The Almanac 04.24.2013 - Section 2

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