Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fresh Sheet – October 29, 2011

“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)
15 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
15 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
20 - Doxocopa laure (Silver Emperor)
13 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
25 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
30 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
20 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
16 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
24 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
30 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
20 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
30 - Parides arcas (Arcas Cattleheart)
30 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
13 - Prepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
30 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
07 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 348


20 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
15 - Heraclides thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
10 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
15 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
05 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
15 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
40 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
15 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
10 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
20 - Biblis hyperia (Red Rim)
40 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
30 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)
35 - Phoebis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur)

Total = 270

Grand Total = 618

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tide Pool Bully

What has five arms, wears leather, and is deadly (to sea anemones)?

When we first got our leather star (Dermasterias imbricate) we were impressed by its textured good looks and willingness to slide up into the handling area for inquiring hands to touch it. Although these echinoderms are known to eat sea anemones, we hoped that with ample food, it might suppress its predatory urges. But over time, a series of mysterious casualties were taking place in the tide pool. Sea anemones were disappearing or becoming damaged, with no evidence of human mishandling. Whatever other circumstances, the leather star was always lurking near the scene of the devastation. Animal Caretaker Cari Garand was able to put together the clues, and recommended we deal swiftly with the rogue sea star.

But now we ran into a problem. Pacific Science Center’s tide pool touch tank is considered a terminal facility. This means the department of Fish and Wildlife had determined that our animals couldn’t be returned to the sea. Because we feed our tide pool seafood from other regions, our animals could harbor shellfish virus or other pathogens, harmless to humans but that would make them more of a menace to beach wildlife than our leather star already was to our anemones.

Without the option of release in the wild, a tough decision lay before us. We could let the leather star go on destroying our anemone population, or we could destroy the leather star. Or was there a third way? While we worked out a plan, we removed the star from the exhibit area and isolated it in our filtration vat. Here, it could be fed and looked after without having access to our exhibit animals. Cari contacted Tim Carpenter, at Seattle Aquarium. He graciously agreed to accept the star, and provide a habitat where it would fit in better. All the paperwork was arranged, and on Oct. 25, Tim's assistant, Katie, completed the transfer.

The star had outgrown our little tide pool. We hope he finds it is better to be a small “fish” in a bigger pond.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fresh Sheet – October 22, 2011

Fans of the Atlas moth, Attacus atlas, will note that we have 15 cocoons in the emerging window this week.


57 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
15 - Attacus atlas (Atlas Moth)
49 - Papilio rumanzovia (Crimson Swallowtail)
100 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
80 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
20 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
13 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose)
27 - Doleschalia bisaltide (Autumn Leaf)
77 - Parthenos sylvia philippensis (The Clipper)
20 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
30 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail)
50 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue moon)

Total = 538

“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 19, 2011

Name the Axolotls

Pacific Science Center's Life Sciences team is happy to introduce you to our two newest axolotls.

These young animals were donated to us by a very dedicated young man who had raised them from hatchlings, and wanted to share his interest with others. * The taupe colored one is a natural pigmented axolotl. The other one is an albino. The skin color is pale because it lacks pigment. The pink color often visible in the eyes and extremities of albino animals comes from the blood, which can be seen through their skin. You may see some of this axolotl’s internal organs, too!

The new axolotls are much smaller than our three resident animals, so for now we are keeping them separated by a Plexiglas cage divider. They see and smell each other, but the young ones are safe from bullying or fights over food. We will gradually introduce them; most axolotls are able to get along well if they are otherwise well cared for.

Our new axolotls need names. The grownups are called Flopsy, Mopsy and Peter Cotton Gills. We do not need to stick with the Beatrix Potter theme, but would be open to the possibility. We also have not yet sexed these axolotls. Therefore, we need names that are good for male or female animals. What do you think are good names for them? We don't have a prize, but the best names will be used, which is prize enough!

*Pacific Science Center rarely accepts donations of animals. There are a few exceptions. We will always take in stick insects, and when an animal is a good fit for our existing needs, we will occasionally take other animals from carefully selected sources.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fresh Sheet – October 15, 2011

“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)
25 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
15 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
05 - Doxocopa laure (Silver Emperor)
04 - Hamadryas guatemalena (Guatemalan Calico)
25 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
10 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
10 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
10 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
20 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
12 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
19 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
12 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
25 - Papilio androgeus (Androgeus Swallowtail)
15 - Parides arcas(Arcas Cattleheart)
12 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
14 - Prepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
16 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)

Total = 279


10 - Argema mimosa (African Moon Moth) KENYA
10 - Cethosia cyane (Leopard Lacewing) MALAYSIA
10 - Charaxes cithaeron (Blue-spotted Charexes) USA
09 - Chilasa clytia (Common Mime) THAILAND
10 - Euphaedra neophron (Gold-banded Forester) USA
11 - Euploea core (Common Crow) THAILAND
10 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay) PHILIPPINES
40 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue moon) MALAYSIA
08 - Ideopsis vulgaris (Blue Glassy Tiger) MALAYSIA
10 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose) PHILIPPINES
30 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail) PHILIPPINES
30 - Papilio memnon (Great Memnon) THAILAND
10 - Papilio nireus (Blue-banded Swallowtail) KENYA
10 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail) MALAYSIA
30 - Papilio rumanzovia (Crimson Swallowtail) PHILIPPINES
30 - Tirumala limniace (Blue Tiger) THAILAND
10 - Vindula dejone (Cruiser) MALAYSIA

Total = 278

Grand total = 557

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Butterfly’s-Eye View

Ever wonder what a butterfly sees as it flies above the Tropical Butterfly House? During the recent annual cleaning of the butterfly house, a camera got a ride up in the scissor-lift with horticulturist, Jeff Leonard to get a “butterfly’s-eye view.”

Of course, we know that butterflies don’t have the same vision as a Nikkor zoom lens. Typical of most insects, butterflies have compound eyes, made up of thousands of tiny ommatidia. The ommatidia allow the butterfly to see in every direction at once, creating an image in the form of a mosaic. Butterflies’ can also recognize high frequency ultraviolet light. Without an ability to focus, butterflies might see flowers something like this*:

While we see something like this:

The following photographs are aerial views of the Tropical Butterfly House if butterflies had human vision or humans could fly above the foliage! Enjoy the ride!

* Artist’s Interpretation. Even butterflies of the same species don't see exactly the same colors.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fresh Sheet – October 8, 2011

Two seldom-seen species have arrived at the Tropical Butterfly House: Eryphanis polyxena, the Purple Mort Bleu Owl and Hamadryas laodamia, the Starry Calico. Check them out!

Costa Rica

15 - Agraulis vanilla (Gulf Fritllary)
02 - Anartia fatima (Banded Peacock)
37 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
16 - Caligo atreus (Yellow-Edged Giant-Owl)
07 - Caligo eurilochus (Forest Giant Owl)
08 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
17 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
53 - Danaus plexippus (The Monarch)
35 - Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
02 - Eryphanis polyxena (Purple Mort Bleu Owl)
40 - Eueudes isabella (Isabella’s Longwing)
07 - Greta oto (Glasswing)
25 - Hamadryas feronia (Variable Calico)
06 - Hamadryas laodamia (Starry Calico)
24 - Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
20 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
37 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
38 - Hypna clytemnestra (Silver-studded Leafwing)
44 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
15 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
20 - Papilio polyxenes (Black Swallowtail)
11 - Siproeta epaphus(Rusty-tipped Page)
25 - Siproeta stelenes(Malachite)

Total = 504

“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 5, 2011


Pacific Science Center’s Life Sciences team just added an exciting group of insects to our exhibit area to enhance the collection we already have. What made these new insects special is the order they belong to – the coleoptera, or beetles. The beetles are a huge, successful group of insects, with over 350,000 species. Beetles can be recognized by their sheath-like forewings, or elytra, which protect the hind wings used in flight. All beetles have chewing mouthparts. Beyond that, their diet and habitats vary enormously.

Some are extremely specific, with one or a few key foods they can eat. Moneilema gigas, the cactus long horned beetle, is a great example of an insect whose body is adapted to a specific plant and habitat. Their long legs help them skirt around the sharp spines of cactus, and their slow movement and lack of flight reflect the life of an insect whose best defense if the plant they live on. Cactus long horned beetles chew on cactus, opening areas where they can lay eggs. The larvae mature inside the plant, and can be a serious pest to commercial cactus growers. Our beetles have started working their way through a nopal cactus paddle.

Meanwhile, in the water, all kinds of beetles are in action. Dineutus emarginatus, the whirligig beetles, skid along the top, often swimming in circles when they get excited. Adapted to the water’s surface, these beetles’ eyes are split, with half of each eye adapted to see through air and half adapted to see in the water.

Sunburst diving beetles and green diving beetles (genus Thermonectus) spend more of their time underwater, carrying a bubble of air under their elytra like a tiny scuba tank. Because insects breathe through spiracles in their abdomen, they don’t need air around their faces, meaning they can eat underwater. These colorful and energetic beetles are skilled hunters, often feeding on insects many times their size.

The water scavenger beetle, Hydrophilus triangularis, is safe from the smaller beetles because of its thick exoskeleton. It is free to roam about the tank, gleaning bits of uneaten food, both plant and animal.

These beetle species join an exhibit floor already rich in beetle diversity. Check out the dermestid beetles, which help the cycle that decomposes dead organisms back into the soil.

The familiar mealworms, which feed on various cereals, are really larval stage of the beetle tenebrio molitor.

The blue death feigning beetle, Cryptoglossa verrucosus, is one of our favorite exhibit insects. This desert dwelling insect rests on its back or sides, in a death-like posture that rivals our naked mole-rats in its realism. Yet they are one of the hardiest and longest lived creatures in our collection.

Rounding out our beetles, we are experimenting with a handful (not literally) of dung beetles, genus Canthon. These beetles spend most of their life cycle closely associated with dung, which they eat, roll, hide in and feed to their young. If we can display them in a way that does justice to their unusual diet, they may go out on exhibit in the near future.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fresh Sheet – October 1, 2011

Five hundred, sixty-five more beautiful butterflies from our friendly farmers in El Salvador and Suriname.

El Salvador

14 - Biblis hyperia (Red Rim)
30 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
30 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
20 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
04 - Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
20 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
20 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
35 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
15 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
25 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
20 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
05 - Parides iphidamas (Iphidamas or Transandean Cattleheart)
20 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
20 - Prepona omphale=archeoprepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
07 - Siderone nemesis (Red-striped Leafwing)

Total = 295


05 - Parides lysander (Lysander cattleheart)
40 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
40 - Heraclides thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
20 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
05 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
05 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
05 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
25 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
40 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded shoemaker)
10 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
05 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
05 - Biblis hyperia (Red Rim)
20 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
05 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)
40 - Phoebis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur)

Total = 270

Grand Total = 565

“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!