Friday, July 30, 2010

Fresh Sheet – July 31, 2010

A new species (for us) this week from the Philippines, Papilio hipponus and 60 Paper Kite pupae! Such great Ideas! Come see them emerge!


30 - Cethosia biblis (Red Lacewing)
48 - Chilasa clytia (Common Mime)
22 - Danaus chrysippus (Plain Tiger)
10 - Doleschalia bisaltide (Autumn Leaf)
10 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
50 - Hypolimnas bolina (Great Eggfly)
60 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
30 - Papilio hipponus (Hipponus Swallowtail)
50 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
80 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail)
19 - Papilio rumanzovia (Crimson Swallowtail)
80 - Parthenos sylvia philippensis (The Clipper)

Total = 489

“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.

Read more!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Did that butterfly follow me home?

Each year, as the warm weather finally reaches our part of the world, Pacific Science Center’s life sciences department receives a few frantic phone calls from recent guests, sounding something like this:

“Hi. I visited your wonderful butterfly house two days ago. I must have had a butterfly sneak home on me, because this morning I saw it flying around my yard. I know you follow strict containment laws, and I want to get it back, but I couldn’t catch it. What should I do?”

Recently, as the public becomes more aware of the threats posed by invasive species, these calls have become more common. Many callers have not visited us recently, but simply have concerns about unfamiliar insects found in their areas. We always welcome these calls, and encourage our readers to be watchful for new and unusual looking insects. Often an informed public is the first line of defense against invasive insects.

But to those diligent and caring souls who have concerns about butterflies in their yard, you may find this reassuring. If your butterfly looks like this,
you need not fear. The Western Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio rutulus is native to Washington State. Its caterpillars feed on many native trees. The adult butterfly is active from late spring through the beginning of cold weather in the fall, and is often spotted nectaring in gardens.

The Polyphemus moth, Antheraea polyphemus, another native species, is mostly nocturnal. Although not rare, the Polyphemus moth is surprisingly good at hiding during the day. Callers who spot these large, handsome moths often report that they have lived in the region for many years and never seen one before. Many assume that nothing so striking could possibly be native to our region, which is not known for spectacular bugs.

In addition to these two Lepidoptera, our area is home to the large and magnificent ten-lined June beetle, Polyphylla decemlineata. Despite their name, these colorfully marked beetles usually arrive in July or even August in our area. They are known for flying to porch lights at night, and for hissing when startled – often frightening their captor.

We hope that a visit to the Tropical Butterfly House and Insect Village will only enhance your appreciation for our native species, large and small. And while we always welcome calls about butterflies and other insects, we hope that when you see these species, you will enjoy them without guilt, knowing that they are where they belong.

Photographs of the Western Tiger Swallowtail and the Polyphemus moth are in the public domain. The ten-lined June beetle was on Brianna’s porch.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Fresh Sheet – July 24, 2010

This week we have 588 butterflies from all over the world including four species we've never received before! Come see them!

El Salvador

20 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
30 - Colobura dirce (Mosaic butterfly)
20 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
15 - Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
10 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
25 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
40 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
40 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
30 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
30 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
08 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
10 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
10 - Prepona omphale=archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
25 - Smyrna blomfildia (Blomfeld's beauty)

Total = 323


10 - Catopsilia pyranthe (Mottled Emigrant) THAILAND
10 - Catopsilia scylla (Orange Emigrant) THAILAND*
10 - Cethosia biblis (Red Lacewing) MALAYSIA
07 - Charaxes brutus (White-barred Charaxes) KENYA
10 - Charaxes cithaeron (Blue-spotted Charexes) KENYA
10 - Charaxes saturnus KENYA*
10 - Chilasa clytia (Common Mime) THAILAND
10 - Euphaedra neophron (Gold-banded Forester) KENYA
10 - Euploea core (Common Crow) THAILAND
10 - Hypolimnas bolina (Great Eggfly) MALYASIA
08 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite) PHILIPPINES
07 - Ideopsis vulgaris (Blue Glassy Tiger)*
07 - Junonia almanac (Peacock Pansy) THAILAND
10 - Junonia atlites (Gray Pansy) MALYASIA*
06 - Lexias dirtea (Archduke) MALYASIA
10 - Papilio constantinus (Constantines's Swallowtail) KENYA
30 - Papilio dardanus (Mocker Swallowtail) KENYA
10 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail) PHILIPPINES
10 - Papilio nireus (Blue-banded Swallowtail) KENYA
10 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock) PHILIPPINES
10 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail) THAILAND
10 - Parthenos sylvia lilacinus (Blue Clipper) THAILAND
10 - Parthenos sylvia philppensis (The Clipper) PHILIPPINES
10 - Parthenos sylvia violaceae (Violet Clipper) MALAYSIA
10 - Tirumala limniace (Blue Tiger) THAILAND

TOTAL = 265

*New species to us

“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.

Read more!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No - Thank YOU!

Pacific Science Center’s “Camps for Curious Minds” are in full swing at this summer and Life Sciences staff never passes up an opportunity to get involved. Whether interpreting the naked mole-rats and snakes for “Get Set to Be a Vet,” tide pool feeding for “Wild Ocean Adventures,” or giving a hands-on tour our Tropical Butterfly House, our staff really enjoys the young scientists-in-training.

The campers must enjoy the experience as well because we get letters – lots of them!

Below are a few examples:

Dear Brianna, Thank you for showing and teaching us about naked mole rats. I really enjoyed watching them crawl through the tunnels. I love it so much I drew you a picture of one crawling though a tunnel. From, Zoe L.

Dear Sarah
I really liked the naked mole rats but I especially liked the smell of the toilet chamber that was the best.

Dear Sarah I realy liked the naked mole rats they war very very fast. Were in Africa did you get them. I guess it must rake lost of practice to go backwords. How come the naked mole rats go over each other. When the naked mole rats pile up on each ther its kind of silly. Where did you get the tudes.

Dear Snake handlers, The snake is my 3rd favorite animal! I think you knocked it up to 2nd! Thanks tons for the new memorie! Love, Lauren

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fresh Sheet – July 17, 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

10 - Agraulis vanilla (Gulf Fritllary)
03 - Anartia fatima (Banded Peacock)
04 - Anteos chlorinde (White Angled Sulphur)
09 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
23 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
01 - Caligo atreus (Yellow-Edged Giant-Owl)
10 - Caligo eurilochus (Forest Giant Owl)
09 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
16 - Catonephele mexicana (Mexican Catone)
19 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
20 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded shoemaker)
11 - Colobura dirce (Mosaic butterfly)
46 - Danaus plexippus (The Monarch)
43 - Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
14 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
10 - Greta oto (Glasswing)
13 - Hamadryas amphinome (Red Calico)
09 - Hamadryas februa (Gray Calico)
02 - Hamadryas feronia (Variable Calico)
19 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
14 - Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
43 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
05 - Heliconius hewitsoni
07 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
10 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
12 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
10 - Hypna clytemnestra (Silver-studded Leafwing)
14 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
32 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
03 - Opsiphanes tamarindi (Tamarind Owl)
09 - Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
15 - Papilio polyxenes (Black Swallowtail)
07 - Parides arcas(Arcas Cattleheart)
11 - Parides iphidamas(Iphidamas or Transandean Cattleheart)
14 - Philaethria dido (Scarce Bamboo Page)
09 - Phoebis argente (Apricot Sulfur)
18 - Phoebis philea (Orange Barred Sulfur)
01 - Siproeta epaphus(Rusty-tipped Page)
15 - Siproeta stelenes(Malachite)

Total = 540

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Monday, July 12, 2010

A Whale of a Problem

The Life Sciences department would like to bring your attention to a small but powerful exhibit that is situated near the Puget Sound Salt Water Tide Pool underneath the whale skeleton.

Take a look at this garbage! The exhibit reconstructs the 3.2 pounds of man-made debris that scientists found inside a gray whale’s stomach. The dead animal was found stranded on West Seattle in April.

Plastic items: 441g (15.5 oz)
Fabric Items: 837 g (29.4)
Miscellaneous Items: 165 g (5.8 oz)
• Golf ball
• Fishing line
• Nylon rope
• Capri Sun juice pack
• Duct tape
• Electrical tape
• Rubber band
• Rubber string
• Surgical glove

Total weight: 1443 g (3.2 lbs)

Our waters and shorelines are precious. This is a reminder to those of us who frequent rivers, lakes, and seashores to never leave trash behind. Even better, when visiting beaches, bring along a pair of gloves and a litter bag. Take out some of the rubbish that others have carelessly left behind.

You just might save a whale!
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fresh Sheet – July 10, 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

30 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
30 - Colobura dirce (Mosaic butterfly)
08 - Hamadryas glauconome (Glaucous Calico)
20 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
10 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
80 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
30 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
30 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
12 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
07 - Papilio thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
30 - Prepona omphale=archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)

Total = 302


40 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
10 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
40 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
60 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded shoemaker)
43 - Biblis hyperia (Red Rim)
40 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
08 - Mechanitis polymnia(Polymnia Tigerwing)
17 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)
40 - Phoebis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur)

Total = 300

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Colorful Characters

The following cryptic notes appear in the Animal Care log:

• Purple front was found outside of the chambers this morning. Everyone else was safe inside.
• Black back is definitely looking pregnant.
• Please observe blue/green front’s weight closely, he is looking thin.
• The new pups have caught up in size with brown front.

Who are these colorful characters?

A careful look at the naked mole-rat colony answers the question. The colors are markings the animal care staff uses to identify the colony members. Each animal is given a unique marking – a single color or combination of two colors, either on the shoulders (front) or the lower back.

By marking each animal, we are able to log their weight changes and behavior over time.

Gradually, this information helps us piece together important roles within the colony, and understand why individual animals behave in certain ways.

Some of the animals have distinct physical characteristics or behaviors that have helped earn them titles or descriptors beyond their color markings. Over time, it becomes possible for Animal Care staff to recognize some of the animals at a glance. But without the color markings, it would be harder to monitor their daily behavior or learn their unique physical traits.

We’d like to introduce you to some of our more standout naked mole-rats by sharing their color markings and nicknames.

Black back is one of the two queens. Her nickname is “Elphaba”. Elphaba’s weight ranges from 52 grams non-pregnant to 72 grams pregnant.

Purple/orange front, “Galinda”, is the other queen, who has produced the last successful litter. Galinda currently weighs about 60 grams, she can be much heavier during pregnancy.

Blue/green front is nicknamed “Skinny Guy”, due to his unusual body shape. His appearance makes him a likely candidate for the breeder male, who usually fits this physical description. Skinny Guy weighs 48 grams.

Purple front, on the other hand, is our plumpest animal, and is the dispersing morph. His nickname, due to frequent attempts to escape, is “Hairless Houdini”. He weighs in at an impressive 81 grams.

Brown front is nicknamed “Toothless” for probably obvious reasons. He was part of a litter born just before the colony experienced health problems in 2006/7. At 19 grams, Toothless and his two surviving littermates are smaller than other workers, and are now smaller than some of the pups born in 2009. Their development may have been slowed down by the same circumstances that caused other problems in the colony. Despite the absence of teeth, he still loves to gum on soggy apples and dough balls. However, it is possible that Toothless will always be small.

The next time you're visiting Pacific Science Center, see if you can locate these or any of the other colorful characters at living in our colony.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fresh Sheet -July 3, 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

20 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
25 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
15 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
10 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
12 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
80 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
25 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
25 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
05 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
20 - Archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
08 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 275

Read more!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Plugging a Leak

The Puget Sound Salt Water Tide Pool at Pacific Science Center is in great shape for an exhibit of over twenty years. But after a year of close calls and “band aid” fixes, we realized that the time had come for some major plumbing repairs. PVC becomes brittle with age, and there were signs that some of our pipes would not last much longer. While many home owners can tell you that any sort of plumbing repairs can be tricky and burdensome, in this instance there was a special catch. Plumbing cannot be repaired with water in it. And if the water was gone, the animals had to go too.

Enter the Seattle Aquarium, whose Curator of Fish and Invertebrates, Tim Carpenter, generously offered to accommodate the animals while we got our plumbing work done. Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife was equally helpful in providing us with all the permits we needed to transfer the animals off site. No wildlife should every be captured or transported without a clear purpose and without first completing all necessary permitting.

Having secured a place for them, we had to remove the animals from their home, which they had become quite attached to. Literally. Sea stars and sea urchins cling to the stony shores with many tiny tube feet. Anemones hold on with a single, powerful base that adheres tightly to rocks. Chitons and limpets can attach so firmly that hungry gulls can’t pry them from their stones. And while fishes don’t stick to things, they are very good at hiding. Only the hermit crabs are actually easy to collect.

But through patience and gentle prying, we were able to collect our animals and sort them by group into buckets. Predators like sea stars and anemones were kept separate from their food items, such as hermit crabs and shell fish.

While the animals were away, there was more to do than plumbing. We changed out all the sand and water, cleaned the filter medium and changed the manifolds. We had a good deal of help from PSC staffers in other departments who were excited to help our tide pool animals. Various staff members from IT supervisors to cashier coordinators, helped us empty and clean the tide pool, and transport our animals safely to and from the Aquarium.

The animals appear to have done well while they were away, and we are grateful to the aquarium for all of their help. But we were eager to have them back in our tide pool. We wanted them to stay in good condition upon their return, so before they went back in we tested the water’s salinity, temperature and pH. Although marine life amazes us with its ability to survive difficult conditions, the better care it gets, the more likely it is to do well.

Even with the best care, we expect the first week they are back to be rough. Though the water is sparkling, we are keeping the exhibit closed until we are certain that the anemones have formed good strong bonds with the substrate. We will be excited to reopen the exhibit and we’re sure there are also plenty of visitors out there who will be excited to see, touch and learn from these fascinating creatures again!

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