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Mares’ tails in the sky

Mares tails clouds

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Photo by Carole Boller

These cirrus clouds occur at very high altitudes, at a temperature of about -50° to -40°C. They are commonly known as mares’ tails because of their likeness to horses’ tails.

Village Entrance update

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Village Entrance tractor

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Hard at work

Village Entrance Deere

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Clearing a pathway

LB Trophy Invitational 2019

Photos by Scott Brashier

LB Trophy track

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The Laguna Beach Trophy Invitational, which took place on Saturday and drew an estimated 5,000 spectators, started in 1937 so smaller high schools could participate in a track and field competition

LB Trophy high jump

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Presented by Asics

LB Trophy long jump

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Today the Laguna Beach Trophy Invitational accepts schools of all sizes to compete in this all-day event

More memorable photos from Saturday’s track meet by Scott Brashier below

Creature Features

Winged migration: painted lady butterflies 


Granted, it’s not the same phenomenon as frogs falling from the sky, but the sight of countless butterflies fluttering past my car on Laguna Canyon Road sparked the same “end of the world” apprehension.

However, these painted ladies don’t signal annihilation, just the opposite, they are merely a reaction to the super bloom. Rain brings wildflowers, wildflowers attract painted lady butterflies, and they bring enchantment and wonder, lots of it. Scientists estimate the painted ladies number in the millions.

No doom, only super bloom

As quoted in the LA Times, “Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexican border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, is the reason for the unusually large swarms. The rain caused plants to thrive, giving the painted lady caterpillars plenty of food to fuel their transformation,” said Arthur M. Shapiro, a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis. 

The entire North American population of painted lady butterflies migrates to west Texas and northern Mexico during the winter. As caterpillars, they feed on desert annual plants – their favorites are the families of mallows, borages, and thistles and their relatives – and then once butterflies, they begin traveling north. 

Although they reside only in the warmer climates, they (often) migrate into colder regions in spring and fall, making it the butterfly with the widest distribution of any species.

Winged migration sunflower

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Nourishment from California Bush Sunflower in Laguna

California hasn’t experienced such a remarkable migration of these butterflies since 2005, when nearly a billion painted ladies attempted the trek from near Mexico to the Northwest. Most don’t complete the journey; the offspring of the first generation usually picks up where the others left off. 

It’s not because they’re slow. According to, painted ladies fly fast and far. These medium-sized butterflies can cover a lot of ground, up to 100 miles per day during their migration. A painted lady is capable of reaching a speed of nearly 30 miles per hour and reach northern areas well ahead of some of their more famous migrating cousins, like monarch butterflies. 

Painted ladies love fiddlenecks

Because they get such an early start to their spring travel, migrating painted ladies are able to feed on spring annuals, like fiddlenecks (Amsinckia), which are plentiful in Laguna Canyon Wilderness. Thanks to the super bloom, it’s a lot easier this time around, as their favorite plant is readily available. 

Painted ladies have unusual migration patterns and are referred to as an irruptive migrant, meaning that they migrate independent of any seasonal or geographic patterns. Some evidence suggests that painted lady migrations may be linked to the El Nino climate pattern. In Mexico and some other regions, it appears that migration is sometimes related to overpopulation. 

Winged migration Thornton

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Photo by Louise Thornton

Another local variety of flower to feast on

“They can live up to six weeks, but most don’t live that long. There will be waves of migration as the first generation makes it to northern California, they breed and then the next generation makes the trip to the Pacific Northwest,” Shapiro said.

In spring, painted ladies fly low when migrating, usually only six to 12 feet above the ground. This makes them highly visible to butterfly watchers, but also rather susceptible to colliding with cars. At other times, evidence suggests that painted ladies migrate at such high altitudes that they are not observed at all, simply appearing in a new region unexpectedly.

World travelers

Painted ladies – Venessa cardui – are also called the thistle (they are its favorite nectar plant for food) or cosmopolitan butterfly (because of its global distribution). They

inhabit every continent except Australia and Antarctica. The migrating populations that move from North Africa to Europe may include millions of butterflies, and migrating populations numbering hundreds of thousands of individuals are common. 

Surprisingly, these butterflies do have a downside. For you tofu lovers, the painted ladies can sometimes damage soybean crops when they are found in large numbers. The damage occurs during the larval stages when caterpillars eat soybean foliage after hatching from eggs. 

Although they’re called painted “ladies,” of course, there must be male painted ladies as well. Otherwise, no eggs. To this end, males appear to have a romantic side. During the afternoons, they use a perch and patrol method for finding mates, and although that sounds methodical, once they find a mate, the male whisks her up to a treetop (the amorous part), where they will mate overnight.

To go along with the glamorous title of painted lady, lady caterpillars weave silk tents. Who wouldn’t want a silk cocoon? Unlike other caterpillars in the genus Vanessa, painted lady larvae construct their tents from silk, which are fluffy shelters usually found on thistle plants. 

Hopefully, the migration won’t soon be over. Laguna has fallen in love with the spectacular sight of these incredible butterflies. It is reported that a few have already been spotted in the Northwest, but they appear to be staying a while in Southern California, and that makes residents happy.

Meet Pet of the Week Jessie

Jessie is currently taking the title of Pet of the Week. He is a six-year-old short orange haired tabby who is neutered. He is very shy and quiet since his senior owner recently passed away. Therefore, Jesse will do best in a quiet home or environment. Although, once he gets to know you, he opens up greatly. In addition, Jesse will love to lie in your lap all day long once he feels comfortable. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, hopes to see Jesse adopted as soon as possible. 

Pet of the Week Jesse

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Jesse is a great lap cat once he gets to know you

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, the shelter’s return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For information on adoption procedures, call (949) 497-3552 or go to

Reservations now open for April 3 grand opening at The Royal Hawaiian

Chef Maro Molteni is back in Laguna Beach as the new owner/operator of The Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill and the grand opening is on Wednesday, April 3. 

Maro Molteni, the former owner of popular Maro Wood Grill, moved back to Laguna last summer in search of a new restaurant he could call his own. In late January, Maro and his brother, Martin, took over as 100 percent operators of the grand dame Royal Hawaiian, and have been renovating interiors and menus for a fresh new Polynesian take.

Reservations now outside

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Courtesy of Diane Armitage

Chef Maro Molteni

Visitors will find familiar Laguna local faces at the Royal Hawaiian, too. For starters, longtime Laguna mixologist Sean Melia is taking over the renowned Royal Hawaiian bar program and returning with the original Lapu-Lapu recipe.

Guests will experience a warm and breezy blend of the past, a beautiful present celebrating a new, masterful menu that marries the restaurants original Polynesian vibe with global coastal culinary, and a soon-to-be memorable future. 

The Molteni brothers are all about making our locals and traveling neighbors the Royal Hawaiian’s “ohana” family, so be sure to stop at The Royal Hawaiian in its own “island paradise” of beautiful Laguna Beach. 

To make dining reservations and be one of the first to experience the iconic Royal Hawaiian in a whole new way, visit

The Royal Hawaiian is located at 331 North Coast Hwy.

City officials to discuss fire safety at Village Laguna meeting on March 25

Village Laguna invites the community to the group’s monthly meeting on Monday, March 25 at 7 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, to hear City staff discuss how residents can be prepared for a fast-moving fire, and what innovative safety measures were learned from the experts at the Paradise disaster. All are welcome to attend.

A contingent of Laguna Beach city officials, including City Manager John Pietig, Mayor Bob Whelan, and Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock made the journey to the town of Paradise, California, to witness the destruction caused by the Camp Fire last November.

Village Laguna Pietig

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Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig during recent tour of the fire-ravaged neighborhoods in Paradise

The topography of Paradise shares similarities with Laguna Beach. Our city has formed a Fire Safety Task Force to review Laguna’s emergency evacuation and response plans.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach is located at 429 Cypress Dr.

For more information about Village Laguna, visit

Supporters “take over” KX 93.5 airwaves for annual fund drive next week

KX 93.5, Laguna’s only FM radio station, invites local leaders and legends to take over its airwaves March 25 through 29. Guest hosts will DJ their own hour live on the air, with their own handpicked music and content, to raise money for our beloved community radio station.

“KX Takeover is such a special fundraiser for us because it shows us every year that our station thrives when our community bands together to support it,” said KX 93.5 General Manager Tyler Russell. “It means so much to us that Lagunans will take time out of their schedules to create passionate radio and fundraise on our behalf.” 

KX 93.5 is a throwback to classic days of radio, when DJs actually picked their own music and listeners expected a human connection and community involvement from their local station. To honor that, KX Takeover guest DJs will craft their own playlist and hour of storytelling, as they talk about how music and radio has impacted their lives. 

Supporters take glasses

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KX Supporter Bobbi Cox – 2017 Silver Tongue Award Winner

KX Takeover is a friendly-but-stiff competition where the guest DJ that raises the most money receives the coveted “Silver Tongue Award.” Past winners include Larry Nokes, Rick Riess, Bobbi Cox, Clay Berryhill, and Awakening Code Radio hosts. 

Some of this year’s participants include City Council members Toni Iseman, Peter Blake, Sue Kempf, and Bob Whalen, musician Dylan Rouda, IMAX filmmaker Greg MacGillivray, surfer/entrepreneur Brandy Faber, local Brenden Hexberg, and designer/contractor Julie Laughton. 

Pledges can range from $20 to $20,000, and 100% of the proceeds generated during the fundraiser will assist the general operating budget of the station. By pledging $65 or more, listeners can become members of the radio station to receive annual benefits to ensure KX 93.5’s sustainability. When you make a donation online, you’ll be able to select which guest host you want it to count toward. 

If you value Laguna’s own radio station, as an alternative to corporate media, a source of independent views and thoughtfully crafted music shows, as a resource to be cherished and cared for, as a microphone into the very soul of Laguna, then please help keep us live on the air. Listen in and pledge during KX Takeover from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 25 - 29. 

Find the full schedule of shows and make your donation at

For more information, contact Monica Silva-McCusker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LOCA invites community to Birthday Bash featuring Mike Trout jersey and a trip to San Francisco

LOCA Arts Education invites the public to its Birthday Bash fundraising party on Sunday, March 24 from 4 - 7 p.m., at Bridge Hall at Neighborhood Congregational Church. “Major donors are coming forward – and we are truly thankful for their support,” said event Chair Pat O’Brien. “Let’s all celebrate together!”

LOCA invites jersey

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A signed jersey by Mike Trout is among auction items at the LOCA Birthday Bash

Baseball fans will rally to bid on a jersey, hand signed by Mike Trout, a 7-time Major League Baseball All Star, winner of the 2014 and 2016 Most Valuable Player award, and 6-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award. 

Travel lovers may enjoy a visit-to-San Francisco package, including a travel voucher and 2-night stay at The Donatello Hotel, in a walk-able location among the theater district, fabulous restaurants, and Museum of Modern Art. 

LOCA invites walk

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Contestants are wanted for LOCA’s cakewalk contest, pictured is Ruben Flores at the 2018 Birthday Bash

Partygoers will enjoy great food and wine, fun games for grownups including a musical cakewalk, and music by South Laguna Garden Band. Proceeds support LOCA’s award winning programs serving people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities throughout Laguna Beach. 

Tickets are $50 each or $180 for a party of four. 

For more information, visit or call (949) 363-4700.

Neighborhood Church is located at 340 Saint Ann’s Drive and has free on-site parking.

Bel Canto to perform at LBUMC on March 24

Bel Canto, the women’s choir from Azusa Pacific University, will perform during the 10 a.m. worship service at Laguna Beach United Methodist Church on Sunday, March 24. The choir, led by David Hughes, DMA, sang at the church two years ago to great acclaim. 

Caterina Paton, a member of Bel Canto and LBUMC, is one of twenty singers who will travel to Indonesia, including Bali, in May. This is APU’s first mission trip to Indonesia. 

Bel Canto group

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Bel Canto enjoying a snow day before heading to Indonesia in May

“We’re putting on some large concerts, but also getting to participate in some worship services,” says Caterina. “Everyone is excited to get to know and learn about a new culture.” 

Following the service and the performance, a Polynesian Luncheon, complete with BBQ Chicken, will be held in Healton Hall at the church. Everyone is welcome. 

For more information, contact the church at (949) 499-3088 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LBUMC is located at 21632 Wesley Dr.

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