Friday, May 29, 2009

Fresh Sheet – May 27, 2009

"Fresh Sheet" is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

El Salvador - May 27

8 Anteos maerula (Yellow Angled-Sulphur)
16 Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
30 Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
30 Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
8 Colobura dirce (Zebra Mosaic)
20 Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
10 Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
10 Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
10 Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
10 Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
10 Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
100 Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
20 Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
20 Myscelia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
20 Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
20 Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
Read more!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jeff's Cooties

Last Wednesday our Horticulturist, Jeff Leonard, received a walkie-talkie call from the reception desk. "Jeff, your cooties are here." For anyone overhearing this conversation and wondering - Jeff's "cooties" are, in fact, "beneficial insects." About once or twice a year Jeff orders "bennies" as he calls them, to keep control of aphid, scale, mealybugs and other harmful pests on the plants in the Tropical Butterfly House. This spring's shipment contained four different species. Encarsia formosa is a parasatoidal wasp that attacks aphids, white flies, and other small pests. The eggs arrive on small tags that are hung around the limbs of the infected plant. When the eggs hatch, there is a banquet waiting for them.
Lindorus lopanthae, black lady beetles are scale slayers. These bennies arrive in small vials and are carefully placed on the plants near contaminated sites. The bugs get to work immediately upon release!Cryptolaemus montrouzieri are better known as mealybug destroyers. They are similar to ladybugs but smaller - less likely to leave with visitors.
Chrysoperla rufilabris, green lacewings are probably most recognizable as adults. These beneficial insects arrive as ravenous larvae in cardboard combs which are tapped onto aphid infested plants. If you could see them close-up (which is hard to do because when they arrive they’re less than 1mm and grow to 6-8mm), you'd see the pinchers they use to suck the body fluids from their prey.
Controlling plant pests with beneficial insects means that our horticulture staff doesn’t have to use chemical pesticides or invasive processes in our Tropical Butterfly House. The butterflies are happy, the plants are happy and the “cooties” are happy!
Want to learn more? Check out our supplier's website and blog:

Read more!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fresh Sheet - May 21,2009

"Fresh Sheet" is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center's Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Costa Rica
3 Anartia fatima (Banded Peacock)
18 Anteos chlorinde (White Angled Sulphur)
7 Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
14 Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
12 Caligo eurilochus (Forest Giant Owl)
14 Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
11 Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
7 Chlosyne janais (Crimson Patch)
35 Danaus plexippus (The Monarch)
10 Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
17 Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
6 Hamadryas feronia (Variable Cracker)
11 Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
24 Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
36 Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
35 Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
7 Heliconius sapho (Sapho Longwing)
11 Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
7 Hypna Clytemnestra (Silver-studded Leafwing)
3 Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
21 Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
35 Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
11 Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
5 Nessaea aglaura (Nessaea)
7 Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
21 Papilio polyxenes (Black Swallowtail)
12 Parides iphidamas (Iphidamas or Transandean Cattleheart)
7 Siproeta epaphus (Rusty-tipped Page)
13 Siproeta stelenes (Malachite)
11 Tithorea tarricina (Cream-Spotted Clearwing)
Read more!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Naked Mole Rats' Bedding

Observant staff and visitors have noticed that the bedding for the Naked Mole Rats has changed. The former medium, Aspen shavings, has been replaced with bedding made from the recycled cellulose pulp fiber CareFRESH®. Why? Well, like all scientists, we’re experimenting in search for the best setup for our colony. Our new bedding is produced in a cleaner, more controlled environment and is purpose-made as rodent bedding. What we did not know is whether it would work for our unique situation.

According to Life Science Department manager, Sarah Moore, “CareFRESH® bedding is working OK except that it is drier than the wood shavings. When we first introduced it to our Naked Mole Rats, their skin became flaky and dry. Now we’re tossing a small amount of filtered water in with the bedding to cut its moisture-wicking properties. Doing this has helped with the skin problems and it keeps their food from drying out too fast. Also, this new bedding does not absorb odor as much as the wood chips. But that is probably desirable in the case of mole rats, because they use odor as a marker.”

As caretakers of an animal with a complex social behavior, we’re trying to balance the mole rat’s physical husbandry needs (for a clean habitat with a stable temperature and humidity) with their social needs to be together and have minimum handling in an environment that smells like home.

Read more!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fresh Sheet - May 12, 2009

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center's Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

May 12, 2009 – El Salvador

20 Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)

30 Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)

30 Catonephele numilia (Numilia)

20 Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)

20 Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)

20 Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)

5 Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)

100 Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)

40 Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)

20 Myscelia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)

20 Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)

20 Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)

20 Phoebis philea (Orange Barred Sulfur)

10 Prepona omphale=archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)

May 10, 2009 – Suriname

10 Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)

10 Heraclides thoas (Giant Swallowtail)

30 Heliconius erato (Small Postman)

7 Heliconius melpomene (Postman)

10 Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)

40 Dryas Julia (Julia Longwing)

28 Colobura dirce (Zebra Mosaic)

30 Catonephele orites (Orange-banded shoemaker)

40 Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)

5 Hypna Clytemnestra (Silver-studded Leafwing)

40 Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)

30 Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)

20 Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)
Read more!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Bees are Back

Pacific Science Center has been maintaining an observation beehive for many years to increase the public’s awareness and understanding of honey bees. Every winter our observation beehive is vacated because of the challenges of maintaining an exhibition colony year round. Last week, Life Sciences staff dismantled and cleaned the display case in preparation of the arrival of our new residents.
Then early Saturday morning May 9th, beginning at 7am our apiarist John DeGroot and his assistant, Scott Enright arrived with our new colony. The installation must be done before Pacific Science Center visitors arrive. The cool, early morning temperature kept the bees calm.

Under the direction of Life Sciences manager Sarah Moore, the apiarists first open the beehive that John has brought. Next the men carefully lift out each frame from the hive box while searching for the queen. The queen is then carefully placed into a container for John to mark her thorax with a yellow pen. This doesn’t hurt her and helps our visitors find the queen among the thousands of other bees.

Once the queen has been marked, the enclosure is slowly and carefully reassembled. The eight frames of comb are placed in our vertical hive that is covered in glass and viewable on both sides. Up until now, the entire operation has been performed outdoors. Any straggler bees will find their way back to queen once the hive is in place.
When everything checks out, the frame is lifted up on a cart and wheeled back through the Insect Village to the awaiting exhibit structure. When the entire hive is set into the structure, slides that cover flight holes are removed so that the bees can freely come and go through a Plexiglas tube to the outside world.

A final check must be made of every potential leak to the system. Bees are capable of finding very small cracks in our exhibit which could upset them and our visitors. These potential escape routes have to be sealed with the best means possible: duct tape.

With the entire system in place, our new bees are free to fly around the Seattle Center neighborhood gathering pollen from the many flowers that bloom all summer long.

Visit our observation beehive and watch as the queen and her workers fill the frames with larvae and honey.

Want to learn more?
Visit the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation sites
Read more!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May Butterfly of the Month

Dryas iulia

Julia longwing or Passion vine butterfly

Range: Southern United States to tropical south America
  • These butterflies are known for their erratic flight patterns. In the wild they are often found in the open clearings of forests.

  • Julias are in the family Heliconiidae, along with all other species of longwing butterflies. Although they resemble other heliconius species, they have a distinct wing shape and solid orange color that makes them quite easy to identify.

  • D. iulia eggs are laid on passion vines. Eating this hostplant during the larval stage will give the butterfly a flavor that is noxious to its predators. Can you think of other butterflies that use this method of defense?

  • The Tropical Butterfly House gets Julia butterflies from both central and south America with colors that are very different. Though both are orange, the butterflies from Suriname have a pinkish cast that is almost neon bright!
Read more!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Check out the Newest Members of our Tidepool

On Monday April 27, an intrepid group of naturalists from Pacific Science Center headed to Indianola beach to replenish our tidepool population. Taking advantage of exceptionally low tides, the team returned with an amazing assortment of anemones, arthropods, echinoderms and mollusks.

Come visit the newest residents of our Puget Sound Salt Water Tidepool. Friendly PSC Science Interpreters are happy to share their knowledge of these wonderful intertidal organisms.

We have lots of Hermit Crabs

Mossy Chiton visiting Christmas Anemones

A tiny Ochre star

This year’s collectors from the Life Sciences department included Brianna Todd, Adrian Eng and Maida Ingalls. Pacific Science Center staff Portia Lingwood and Sarah Bradshaw helped collect as well.

As in the past, we are grateful to PSC volunteer John Aurelius and the Indianola Beach community for allowing us to collect permitted animals from their shores.
Read more!

Friday, May 1, 2009

About Us

Ever wonder who the smiling team players in Life Sciences are? Meet our Animal Caretakers and Horticulturists:

Life Span: Working at Pacific Science Center since 1993. Rejoined the Animal Care team in January 2014.

Can be found most anywhere in Pacific Science Center, but is most often found speaking parsel tongue to the snakes.

Feeding, cleaning, and occasionally snuggling the animals.

Field Markings:
Lizard head scarf, blue scrubs, and cute sensible shoes.

“I know that the molecules in my body are traceable to phenomena in the cosmos. That makes me want to grab people on the street and say: ‘Have you HEARD THIS?” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

Life Span: Working at Pacific Science Center since 2012, and joined the animal care team in January 2014.

Habitats: Can be found most anywhere in Pacific Science Center, but is most often located in a sunny patch in the Ackerley Family Gallery, near the bees, the butterflies, or Ali the turtle.

Activities: Gabbing with guests about the animals in the collection while providing care tasks.

Field Markings: Brown, unruly hair and long arms that are great for cleaning the hard to reach crevices in the tide pool!

Quote: “Some people need a red carpet rolled out in front of them in order to walk forward into friendship. They can't see the tiny outstretched hands all around them, everywhere, like leaves on trees.” Miranda July

Life Span: Lead Animal Caretaker since 2012, hopping around Pacific Science Center since 2008.

Habitats: Tropical Butterfly House, Naked Mole Rats, Insect Village, Tidepool, occasionally found on expedition in the colorful PSC vans.

Activities: Casually stalks the naked mole rats, makes spreadsheets, cleans the emerging room, orders supplies, pins butterfly pupae, updates signage, learns Latin names for everything.

Field Markings: Small in stature but identified by big curly mane. Can often be seen in bright colors.

Quote: “The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Life Span: Horticulture/Animal Care since 2006; plant and animal lover all my life.

Habitats: Can be found in the bushes and behind the netting in the Tropical Butterfly House.

Activities: Feeding Plants & animals, pinning pupae

Quote: “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” - My Mother


Life Span: Started at Pacific Science Center in 1994 as an animal caretaker, became Life Sciences program manager in 1997.

Habitats: Range overlaps with those of all animal and plant exhibits at Pacific Science Center except for Mercer Slough.

Activities: Comes up with projects for life sciences staff to do, keeps track of how many of every kind of animal we get, maintains permits, strives to interest staff and volunteers in biology and life sciences.

Field Markings: Often found wearing colorful plumage.

Behaviors: Acting out animal behavior, watching pupae intently, disappearing behind tidepool for hours, installing beehives.

Quote: "I don't know, let's find out."


Life Span: Life Sciences volunteer since 2004, Pacific Science Center volunteer since 2003, Photographer since 1975

Habitats: Tropical Butterfly House, Puget Sound Saltwater Tidepool, Naked Mole Rat enclosure, flower bowls (in the summer).

Activities: Clicks, pins, feeds, grooms and blogs.

Field Markings: Black volunteer vest with stuffed pockets. Can usually be spotted with a camera and a smile.

Quote: “One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.” -Lewis Carroll
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