Friday, October 29, 2010

Fresh Sheet – October 29, 2010

This week we released five African Moon Moths (Argema mimosae) into the Tropical Butterfly House. More cocoons are in the Emerging Window and so more moths should soon appear. Come visit us!

El Salvador

10 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
25 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
25 - Doxocopa laure (Silver Emperor)
10 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
10 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
20 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
60 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
05 - Papilio androgeus (Androgeus Swallowtail)
22 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
20 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
08 - Phoebis philea (Orange Barred Sulfur)
20 - Siderone nemesis (Red-striped Leafwing)
16 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 251


06 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
08 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
12 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
07 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
40 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
50 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded shoemaker)
42 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
05 - Nessaea aglaura (Aglaura Olivewing)
06 - Hamadryas feronia (Variable Calico)
40 - Biblis hyperia (Red Rim)
50 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
04 - Phoebis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur)

Total = 270

Grand total = Over 520

“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, October 27, 2010

Tricks & Treats

Join the party animals at Pacific Science Center this weekend and watch our naked mole rats celebrate Halloween! Costumes are encouraged but not required.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Having a Ball!

It’s easy for us humans to get swept up in football season every fall, but have our naked mole-rats also caught the same football fever? After feeding our colony recently, one mole-rat was observed scurrying around from chamber-to-chamber-to-chamber with a little green ball in its mouth. While we watched we couldn’t help but be reminded of a NFL receiver running for a first down. Are we really witnessing naked mole-rat football?

First, we noticed one mole-rat with the green ball held firmly in his mouth as he scampered non-stop through the tubes and chambers, heedless of the other mole-rats.

When the ball carrier finally stopped to eat some food, another mole-rat took over. This ball-carrying mole-rat repeated the same peripatetic activity to the delight of our guests.

At one point, the ball was in a scrum between several other naked mole-rats. Eventually, “Hairless Houdini” emerged with the ball in his mouth. While the others were distracted with food and basic mole-rat sniffing behavior, Houdini took the ball, buried it in the potty chamber then nonchalantly returned to his chums. Game over!

As you may have guessed, the “little green ball” is actually a solitary grape that Animal Caretakers include in the food assortment that we give the colony. We’ve never seen them eat the grape, but they sure have fun playing with it.

As much fun as it is to witness this adorable game, we can’t help but wonder what’s going on in the mole-rats’ activity. Are they showing competitive behavior, performing a social function or merely having fun? What do you think?

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Fresh Sheet – October 22, 2010

This week’s shipment is a confirmation that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reads our paperwork. The USDA detected a species that is not on our permit. They could have destroyed or turned back the entire shipment. Instead, they identified and remove the illegal species and sent the remaining pupae on to us.


55 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
98 - Papilio rumanzovia (Crimson Swallowtail)
09- Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
98- Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
40 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose)
29 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
17 - Doleschalia bisaltide (Autumn Leaf)
20 - Parthenos sylvia philippensis (The Clipper)
19 - Cethosia biblis (Red Lacewing)
25 - Hypolimnas bolina (Great Eggfly)

Total = 410

“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!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Leave Them Alone!

They march across sidewalks and appear on the trunks of trees. Plump, fuzzy, caterpillars, often appearing sluggish, confused, and far from anything they could possibly eat. Along with spiders, changing leaves and ripe pumpkins, the sudden appearance of caterpillars seems to be a sign of fall in Seattle.

Pacific Science Center’s Life Sciences department gets its share of calls about these larvae. Most callers are at once charmed by their cuteness and anxious about their fate, as they seem to have lost all interest in taking care of themselves.

Much of the worry is unnecessary. Most caterpillars that become obvious in the fall belong to species that overwinter as larvae. Banded woollybears, Pyrrharctia isabella, are a famous example. These rust-red and black larvae have been fattening up during the summer. As the days grow shorter, they lose interest in eating and become restless. They leave the plants that feed them, and wander about, hunting for safe places to hide. Once they find the right spot, they go into diapause - delayed or suspended development.

Their bodies are amply prepared for the cold weather ahead. The liquid in their body is able to cool below freezing. Their instincts help them burrow into soil and dead leaves, where they will be further protected from weather extremes.

In late winter, they will resume development, pupate, and emerge as grown moths. One of the concerns about climate change is that the timing for these sensitive developments may become confused, as temperatures warm sooner but day lengths are still short in spring. In general, adapting to changes in climate is easier for species that have multiple generations per year, and have cycles that are less strongly linked to the changes in season.

In past articles, this blog recommends against raising caterpillars found in the fall. At best it is frustrating, and at worst, can lead to serious timing problems for the insect, which may complete its life cycle at a time of year that is inappropriate for feeding or finding mates. Not only that, but their soft-looking coats can be irritating to the skin and eyes, and are best not touched! It may seem like a cold, cruel world for such a tiny animal, but trust these little bears’ instincts and let them fend for themselves this winter.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Fresh Sheet – October 15, 2010

This week’s shipments include two different members from the species Archeoprepona AND the beautiful African Moon Moth, Argema mimosa. Drop by and check them out!

El Salvador

15 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
15 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
20 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
30 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
15 - Doxocopa laure (Silver Emperor)
08 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
20 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
60 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
15 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
20 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
10 - Prepona omphale=archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)

Total = 228


10 - Argema mimosa (African Moon Moth)
10 - Catopsilia scylla (Orange Emigrant)
10 - Cethosia cyane (Leopard Lacewing)
10 - Charaxes brutus (White-barred Charaxes)
10 - Charaxes cithaeron (Blue-spotted Charexes)
10 - Charaxes protoclea (Flame-bordered Charexes)
08 - Chilasa clytia (Common Mime)
10 - Euphaedra neophron (Gold-banded Forester)
10 - Euploea core (Common Crow)
30 - Hypolimnas bolina (Great Eggfly)
10 - Hypolimnas misippus (Danaid Eggfly)
02 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
09 - Ideopsis vulgaris (Blue Glassy Tiger)
10 - Papilio constantinus (Constantines's Swallowtail)
60 - Papilio dardanus (Mocker Swallowtail)
04 - Papilio memnon (Great Memnon Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio nireus (Blue-banded Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail)
20 - Parthenos sylvia lilacinus (Blue Clipper)
10 - Tirumala limniace(Blue Tiger)
08 - Tirumala septentrionus(Dark Blue Tiger)

Total = 271

Grand total = Almost 500

“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!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Leave them alone. They’re trying to clone!

Although they are animals, sea anemones are as lovely as the flower they are named after. Their colors range from red through orange, white, and green, some are even marbled in two tones. Tentacles fringe the perimeter, in the center is the orifice, or mouth. Sea anemones belong to the phylum Cnidaria. Because this group of animals lack a two-ended digestive tract, the mouth also functions as their anus.

At Pacific Science Center's Puget Sound Salt Water Tide Pool, we encourage you to touch the tentacles, which are used to sense and manipulate food and to defend the animal. We ask you not to touch the orifice! And now that you know what it is for, you probably don’t want to.

Sea anemones are normally round. But recently we have had a large number of anemones become elongated in one direction and narrow in the other. They look for all the world like rubber bands being stretched out tight.

These are one type of anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima, the aggregating anemone. While anemones can reproduce sexually by releasing free-swimming gametes into the water, many types also reproduce asexually. In the case of the aggregating anemone, the animals clone themselves. The stretched out individuals are part way through the process. Their two ends will each become a fully functional animal. The area in the middle thins until it eventually disconnects, freeing two daughter organisms.

Clonal groups of these anemones will often populate a large rock or flat area on a beach. When two groups meet, they use special stinging cells to battle each other. Don’t worry! None of the anemones in our exhibit is known to have a sting that can be felt by humans.

So when you see an anemone in the midst of cloning, please show it a little extra care. Cloning is fascinating, but it is also risky and costly of the animal’s resources. Choose another anemone – a round one – to touch. Though in a different way than we are used to, it is reproducing, and needs an extra bit of privacy.
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Fresh Sheet - October 8, 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

17 - Agraulis vanilla (Gulf Fritllary)
09 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
14 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
29 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded shoemaker)
09 - Chlosyne janais (Crimson Patch)
10 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
08 - Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
24 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
10 - Eueudes isabella (Isabella’s Longwing)
28 - Greta oto (Glasswing)
09 - Hamadryas amphinome (Red Calico)
25 - Hamadryas feronia (Variable Calico)
09 - Hamadryas fornax (Orange Calico)
09 - Hamadryas guatemalena (Guatemalan Calico)
08 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
24 - Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
53 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
28 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
10 - Heliconius sara (Sara Longwing)
24 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
25 - Hypna clytemnestra (Silver-studded Leafwing)
14 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
43 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
09 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
24 - Nessaea aglaura (Aglaura Olivewing)
15 - Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
12 - Papilio polyxenes (Black Swallowtail)
44 - Philaethria dido (Scarce Bamboo Page)
09 - Siproeta epaphus(Rusty-tipped Page)
24 - Siproeta stelenes(Malachite)

Total = 576

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Helping the medicine go down

When staff at Pacific Science Center prepare to work with reptiles, we are trained on preventing the spread of the Salmonella bacteria, and instructed to view our reptiles as potential salmonella carriers. Many of our handling, care, and public contact rules come from this training.

So getting a positive salmonella test result back from Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital when they tested our boa constrictors was not entirely unexpected.

However, in the case of one snake, Estrella, an elevated population of these bacteria in her gut may have led to other behavior problems and an overall decline in health. Dr. Maas suggested an aggressive course of antibiotic treatment for all three boa constrictors, to either eliminate the bacteria, or at least reduce the levels to a point where more beneficial gut bacteria could hold them in check. This would get Estrella back into the pink and keep Esteban and Estella feeling great.

Each snake is given approximately 0.5 cc of medicine, orally, each morning for 30 days. Medicating a snake is easier said than done.

If you have medicated a dog or cat, you know to aim for the back of the mouth, so that the animal tastes less and swallows more quickly. This is even more important with snakes. First, snakes’ mouths are good at swallowing large prey items, but they are not good at retaining liquid. Medication placed near the front of the mouth has a habit of leaking back out.

More frightening, a snake’s epiglottis (opening to their windpipe) is located on the bottom of the mouth, and can be moved quite far forward. This allows snakes to breathe while to swallowing prey. Unfortunately, it means we risk accidentally administering medication into a snake’s lung instead of its stomach. We use a tube to make sure the liquid gets down to the back of the mouth. Watch out for teeth!

Contrary to myth, snakes are not actually slimy. They are very smooth, nonetheless, and slide through our grip when we try to restrain them. A firm hand, and a quick partner giving the medication, gets the job done.

Estrella is already feeling much better and doesn’t seem to hold a grudge against us for giving her medication. Esteban and Estella are doing great as well.
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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Free Admission

Thanks to a generous donation from Fred Meyer, Inc., loyal readers of PacSciLife can visit Pacific Science Center absolutely free on the first Monday of each month! Just be one of our first one thousand guests.

Readers who live in the area can visit the Tropical Butterfly House, the Puget Sound Salt Water Tide Pool, the Insect Village and see our world famous naked mole-rats absolutely free once a month! Of course, all the permanent Pacific Science Center exhibits including the new "Mindbender Mansion" and "Science on a Sphere" are included in your free visit. Remember - be one of the first one thousand guests to visit Pacific Science Center on the first Monday of the month and see it all for free. Learn More
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Friday, October 1, 2010

Fresh Sheet – October 1, 2010

This week we have shipments from a South American country and a Central American country, each bearing different pupae species from the genus Prepona. Visit our Tropical Butterfly House and see if you can tell the difference!


12 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
25 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
40 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
55 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
60 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded shoemaker)
27 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
15 - Biblis hyperia (Red Rim)
04 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
25 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
15 - Phoebis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur)

Total = 278

El Salvador

30 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
30 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
12 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
80 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
16 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
30 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
20 - Prepona omphale=archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
10 - Siderone nemesis (Red-striped Leafwing)
06 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 234

Grand total = 512

“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!