Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fresh Sheet – May 28, 2010

“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

10 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
25 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
10 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
15 - Colobura dirce (Mosaic butterfly)
10 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
10 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
15 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
10 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
10 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
10 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
80 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
20 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
10 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
15 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
09 - Parides montezuma (Montezuma Cattleheart)
10 - Prepona omphale=archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
20 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 309

London Pupae Supply of LA

09 Appias lyncida (Chocolate Albatros)
10 - Athyma perius (Common Sergeant)
10 - Catopsilia pyranthe (Mottled Emigrant)
10 - Cethosia cyane (Leopard Lacewing)
10 - Chilasa clytia (Common Mime)
10 - Euploea core (Common Crow)
10 - Hypolimnas bolina (Great Eggfly)
10 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
07 - Ideopsis juventa (Wood Nymph)
05 - Ideopsis vulgaris (Blue Glassy Tiger)
12 - Junonia almanac (Peacock Pansy)
10 - Junonia lemonias (Lemon Pansy)
10 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
10 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail)
03 - Papilio rumanzovia (Crimson Swallowtail)
25 - Parthenos sylvia lilacinus (Blue Clipper)
10 - Parthenos sylvia violaceae (Violet Clipper)
10 - Tirumala limniace(Blue Tiger)
10 - Tirumala septentrionus(Dark Blue Tiger)

Total = 201

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Queen Galinda?

On Friday May 21, naked mole-rat Elphaba gave birth to a litter of 20 pups. These individuals were smaller than usual and did not do well; by Monday we had lost the entire group. Either because the pups were not viable or for more complex reasons, the colony did not give this litter the same care as it has for the last several births.

While this sounds like unfortunate news, it may not be. Naked mole-rat colonies normally have only one reproductive female, making ours the anomaly in having two. Most other exhibitors have predicted violent fighting between females, which perhaps still lies ahead. But maybe not.

If one female is more successful in reproducing, the other can revert to a non-breeding state. The ovaries and uterus of a naked mole-rat that stops breeding would become smaller, as in an immature female. Her behavior would become more like that of a worker and less like that of a queen. Yet should the primary queen be lost, she would be able to resume breeding once again.

At this point, we cannot confirm that one female has emerged as the queen, but we can be on the lookout. If Galinda is validating her status, we will see her engaging in dominant behavior towards Elphaba and possibly preventing her from interacting with breeding males. Some studies show that this, rather than the pheromones she produces, is what prevents other females from getting pregnant.

Interesting times lie ahead.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grasshopper Havoc

Spring is in the air folks! The sun is out, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and at Pacific Science Center the eastern lubbers are hopping! Yes folks, this spring we have hatched our very own baby eastern lubber grasshoppers (Romalea guttata). This is the first time that this species has been able to reproduce within our exhibit, so we’re watching them closely and with much excitement.

An eastern lubber is a type of grasshopper native to the southeastern and south central portion of the United States. They are common to Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and North Carolina often found swarming in search of lush green grasslands. Nor are lubbers very picky eaters. They will devour a wide variety of vegetation and fruit. Lubbers have a fondness for citrus, vegetable crops and landscape ornamentals. For many animals they are toxic to eat and they can secrete noxious foam as a defense mechanism. They are one of the largest grasshoppers reaching over 2.5 inches in length as adults. Although they have wings, lubbers are flightless.

Most adults usually lay between 25-50 eggs. Our exhibit currently has 13 newly hatched juveniles, so we are hoping to be seeing more shortly. Spring hatchlings generally mature by early fall. We are very excited to watch them grow!

Grasshoppers are fun to look at on exhibit, but not an insect that we would like to add to Seattle’s outdoor animal population. As with all of our insect species, their bedding, food and cage are maintained following strict containment protocol. Perhaps more than any other animal we care for, it is easy to understand this need with grasshoppers: They move fast and eat a wide range of plants. We remind our readers to never release any non-native insects into the wild, even accidentally, by composting cage material that may contain eggs. [See our earlier article, "Stick Bug Amnesty."ed]

A reminder of the havoc that grasshopper species can cause in our region is highlighted in a recent article from the Seattle Times. The challenges of dealing with grasshoppers are compounded by the fact that there are a number of species, each adapted to different conditions. Richard Zack, from Washington State University’s Department of Entomology, listed the following: the bigheaded grasshopper (Aulocara elliotti), the clearwinged grasshopper (Camnula pellucida), the two-striped grasshopper (Melanoplus bivittatus), the redlegged grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum), the migratory grasshopper (Melanoplus sanguinipes), and the valley grasshopper (Oedaleonotus enigma). Professor Zack commented, “Each can be a problem. They will vary on where you are looking and the year.”

Let's all agree - the last thing we want to do is add an invasive species to that list!

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Fresh Sheet – May 21, 2010

“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

14 - Anteos chlorinde (White Angled Sulphur)
03 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
14 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
09 - Caligo atreus (Yellow-Edged Giant-Owl)
04 - Caligo eurilochus (Forest Giant Owl)
05 - Caligo illioneus (Illioneus Giant Owl)
13 - Catonephele mexicana (Mexican Catone)
14 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
11 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded shoemaker)
09 - Chlosyne janais (Crimson Patch)
14 - Colobura dirce (Mosaic butterfly)
30 - Danaus plexippus (The Monarch)
42 - Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
14 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
30 - Eueudes isabella (Isabella’s Longwing)
13 - Hamadryas amphinome (Red Calico)
09 - Hamadryas feronia (Variable Calico)
14 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
11 - Heliconius cydno (Cydno Longwing)
14 - Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
11 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
48 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
20 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
18 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
10 - Heliconius sara (Sara Longwing)
10 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
25 - Hypna clytemnestra (Silver-studded Leafwing)
14 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
32 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
08 - Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
25 - Papilio polyxenes (Black Swallowtail)
13 - Philaethria dido (Scarce Bamboo Page)
19 - Siproeta stelenes (Malachite)

Total = 540

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Baby Grasshoppers

Last week, Life Science Manager Sarah Moore sent out the following email to all Pacific Science Center employees:

Ok. Most of you will come running for baby naked mole-rats, but did you know that grasshopper babies are cute too? We have at least three hatchlings out in the lubber grasshopper cage, and will probably get more. This is the first time we have had a complete life cycle of this species so we are pretty happy.

What to look for? The babies are shiny black with yellow markings, and look like tiny versions of adult grasshoppers only uncannily, where a big grasshopper looks like it’s going to destroy your crops, the babies look adorable. So adorable that the Horticulture Department took one look at them and offered to sacrifice some bamboo to feed them.

Come check them out.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Fresh Sheet – May 14, 2010

“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.


17 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
11 - Papilio thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
60 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
16 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
14 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
08 - Heliconius hecale ( Tiger Longwing)
25 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
09 - Colobura dirce (Mosaic butterfly)
30 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded shoemaker)
40 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
04 - Hypna clytemnestra (Silver-studded Leafwing)
26 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
40 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)

Total = 300

El Salvador

10 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
20 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
20 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
10 - Colobura dirce (Mosaic butterfly)
20 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
10 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
20 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
20 - Heliconius hecale ( Tiger Longwing)
10 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
20 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
80 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
20 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
10 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
25 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
20 - Prepona omphale=archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
20 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 345

Grand Total = 645

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reflections of an Animal Care Intern

Ever wonder what it would be like to be an Animal Care Intern? Discovery Corp member, Kayla has had that very opportunity for the past 9 months. Below are Kayla's impressions of working on the Animal Care team.

I initially applied for the Animal Care internship to extend my knowledge and experience of the tide pool. But after I began doing all the tasks, I realized that exotic zoology would be a better fit for me. So even though I learned a ton about the tide pool, I actually ended up finding a field that I am even more passionate about!

I believe that the one thing I learned that will be most helpful in future school or career situations was independence. When I first joined the animal care team, I did not really know how to create my own schedule and do things without being told. But throughout the time I had with my internship, I learned how to plan my own day and be my own boss, even when I had superiors around me. The independence I gained with Animal Care will follow me with whatever I choose to do in life.

I do not think that there was much I was unable to do during my internship because I believe I took full advantage of every aspect of it. I learned about snake handling, feeding all the animals and improved my interpreting skills by learning tons of new information on such great animals! But I do have to admit, the one thing I would have loved to do before my internship was over is tide pooling. It looks like such a great experience to go out and actually see our tide pool animals in the wild.

Of all the animals I dealt with during my internship, the axolotls made me the most uncomfortable. In the very beginning of the internship they actually terrified me. I am not quite sure why, but the thought of putting my whole arm in a tank of axolotls horrified me. But I soon overcame my fear of them and finally began feeding them myself! I actually am quite fond of them now, and hope to own a couple in the future!

During the internship my favorite place to interpret was, without a doubt, the naked mole-rats. Everything about them fascinates me, from the different roles of the colony, to how they raise their young. Some days I would find myself interpreting there for hours. And on many occasions I found myself talking and researching about them when I was not even at work. Someday I actually hope to go to Africa and study them up close in their natural habitat.

I think the most important thing to share about my internship was that it was truly a life-changing experience. It helped me improve on tons of great skills and guided me to a career path that I am passionate about. I will carry the experiences I have had from this internship for the rest of my life. I hope that the next person takes full advantage of every opportunity given with their time in Animal Care, because I am truly grateful that I did.

We are grateful to Kayla for her enthusiastic and inspiring service in our program. The Life Sciences program has surely benefitted as much as she has from her time working in it. We wish Kayla every success in her future undertakings, and expect to hear great things from her.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Year One

This month PacSciLife Blog celebrates its first anniversary. Yes! Twelve months have passed since Pacific Science Center’s Life Sciences department published its first web blog. In one year there have been over 130 posts, thousands of words, a plethora of comments (thank you), and tons of pixels in the form of photographs.

Around the department we have been remembering our favorite posts: “Lydia Shedding,” “Jeff’s Cooties,” and “Hisser Mites.”

Some articles have helped us take a closer look at our practices (“The Tale of Two Queens”) while other articles have helped us publicize services to our community (“Stick Bug Amnesty").

We report exciting events (“Darwin’s Orchid”) as well as the routine (“The Big Clean”). Our goal is to allow our readers to examine with us the not-so-everyday activities of animal and horticulture care at Pacific Science Center.

Let us know what articles and subjects you’ve enjoyed from the past year and what you’d like to see in the future. Life Sciences staff sincerely appreciates you, our loyal readers. Thank you for your feedback and encouragement. But stay tuned. We’re just getting started!
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Fresh Sheet – May 7, 2010

“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.


25 - Cethosia biblis (Red Lacewing)
23 - Danaus chrysippus (Plain Tiger)
06 - Doleschalia bisaltide (Autumn Leaf)
11 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
28 - Hypolimnas bolina (Great Eggfly)
57 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
10 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose)
60 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
60 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
07 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail)
08 - Papilio rumanzovia (Crimson Swallowtail)
11 - Parthenos sylvia philppensis (The Clipper)

Total = 306

Recently we were alerted by our supplier, Ma. Corona Butterfly Farm Culture in the Philippines, that this week’s pupae shipment would be smaller than normal due to the very hot season. Life Sciences Manager, Sarah Moore noted, however, that the shipment does include sixty Papilio palinurus “which will really brighten up the place!”

Come and enjoy!

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Love Your Beach

In wake of the current disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, we feel extremely lucky for the opportunity to explore our own local beaches, and to appreciate the delicate and unlikely balance of the animals that live along all shorelines. While we continue to hope for the best in the southern coast, we invite you to learn more about the tidal ecosystems that exist on Washington beaches. It’s been said that you can’t protect what you don’t love. We hope you’ll love it too.

On April 29, a group of Pacific Science Center’s life sciences staff and volunteers, along with two of our Science on Wheels teachers took a day trip to Indianola beach to collect marine life for our tide pool exhibit. As always, we brought our scientific collections permit from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, a list of animals we needed and we came prepared for rain or shine.

It was a beautiful day, and we collected a fine selection of animals.

2 - Aggregate anemone
4 - Christmas Anemone
17 - Hermit Crabs
3 - White anemone
3 - Plumose anemone
1 - Sea Algae (large bag)
5 - Sea stars – ochre
4 - Barnacle groups
3 - Mussel groups
3 - Burrowing sea cucumbers
1 - Key hole limpet
3 - Gunnel fish (juvenile)
5 - Snails
4 - Shrimp (small)
9 - Chiton, mossy or lined
2 - Isopods
1 - Cockle
4 - Moon snail collars

As we worked and enjoyed the day, the environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico was never far from our minds. Pacific Science Center’s tide pool model was developed to help foster appreciation and stewardship of Puget Sound. Never have those goals seemed more important; nor has the beach seemed more valuable or more fragile.

It can be overwhelming to think of large scale issues that threaten beach health. But there are many things we can do in our daily lives to preserve beach habitats. From visiting the beach respectfully and responsibly, to reducing the use of toxic pesticides, to cleaning our car at a carwash instead of on the street, to using the car less – many simple decisions impact the health of beaches. In caring for the beach, some will become involved in influencing bigger policy questions that help shape the future for our marine animals. We invite you to meet our animals, visit a beach, and link to other organizations dedicated to preserving the health of our irreplaceable Puget Sound.

Once again, we are grateful to PSC volunteer John Aurelius and the Indianola Beach community for allowing us to collect permitted animals from their shores.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fresh Sheet – May 1, 2010

“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

08 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
20 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
20 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
10 - Colobura dirce (Mosaic butterfly)
20 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
14 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
20 - Heliconius hecale ( Tiger Longwing)
08 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
10 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
20 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
60 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
10 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
10 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
08 - Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
20 - Prepona omphale=archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
20 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 368

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