Monday, July 30, 2012

Raise the Roof!

Recently, our newest Animal Caretaker, Chris Russell, had an idea for Naked Mole Rat enrichment. Here’s his story and photos.

Last week, our Naked Mole Rat friends got an expansion added to their tube system, allowing them to venture forward and reach new heights. Literally!

Animal Care staff constructed a test tower, to see how our mole rats would do with exploring “up” instead of their normal “out” on a flat plane. This species is known to have wide spreading tunnel systems that can spread out as far as 6 football fields! Since we don’t have that much space, we decided that they can go up instead and see the world from a new perspective.

Within seconds, our naked mole rats were pouring into the elevated tubes to explore their new view. They continued to use it all day. We think this can be counted as a mission success!
We hope to add more chambers to construct a 2nd story tube system, so stay tuned!

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fresh Sheet – July 28, 2012

This week’s shipment of butterfly pupae includes “The Good”, Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail), “The Bad”, Hypolimnas bolina (Blue Moon), and “The Beautiful”, all of them! Visit our Tropical Butterfly House to enjoy our cast of characters.


50 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
69 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
20 - Papilio rumanzovia (Crimson Swallowtail)
80 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
20 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose)
10 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
80 - Parthenos sylvia philippensis (The Clipper)
19 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail)
14 - Cethosia biblis (Red Lacewing)
40 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue Moon)

Total = 402

“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.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fresh Sheet – July 21, 2012

There’s only one place in Seattle where you can view butterflies emerging every day of the week. Visit us soon!

El Salvador

20 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
15 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
10 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
20 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
20 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
15 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
15 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
55 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
20 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
30 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
15 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
05 - Papilio pilumnus (Three-tailed Swallowtail)
08 - Parides montezuma (Montezuma Cattleheart)
10 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
15 – Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
18 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)

Total = 301


10 - Athyma perius (Common Sergeant)
05 - Attacus atlas (Atlas Moth)
10 - Cethosia cyane (Leopard Lacewing)
10 - Charaxes brutus (White-barred Charaxes)
10 - Charaxes candiope (Green-veined Charaxes)
10 - Charaxes castor (Giant Charaxes)
10 - Charaxes cithaeron (Blue-spotted Charaxes)
10 - Charaxes lasti (Silver Striped Charaxes)
20 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
10 - Graphium angolanus (Angola White Lady)
10 - Graphium antheus (Large Striped Swordtail)
10 - Graphium policenes (Small Striped Swordtail)
20 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue moon)
10 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
05 - Ornithoptera priamus (New Guinea Birdwing)
10 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose)
10 - Papilio demodocus (Orchard Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio nireus (Blue-banded Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio pilumnus (Three-tailed Swallowtail)
30 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio rumanzovia (Crimson Swallowtail)
10 - Salamis anacardii (Clouded Mother Of Pearl)
10 - Troides rhadamantus plateni (Platen’s Birdwing)

Total = 270

Grand Total = 571

“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 18, 2012

Eat the Hissers?

Our guests often recognize our Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches as celebrities from the television reality show “Fear Factor.” Unfortunately, the insects’ fame involves them being eaten. Have you ever considered eating a cockroach? Well, put down your fork.

Recently a story was going around from the Science Interpretation staff that eating raw cockroaches causes the tongue to go numb. This fact seemed possible but it was a new one to the Animal Care staff. We are quite aware of the tongue-numbness caused by banana slugs and sea anemone. In fact, we personally know people who have tested this theory. But we'd never heard such a thing about Hissing Cockroaches. Were they being “badmouthed”?

Life Sciences Manager, Sarah Moore, wanted to verify the claim WITHOUT putting it to the taste test herself. Having zero interest in a numb mouth, she instead asked the expert, David George Gordon, author, lecturer, and Bug Chef Extraordinaire.

Mr. Gordon agreed with Sarah’s assumption that somehow slug lore became conflated with cockroach lore. Furthermore, he shared this important advice:
I DO know for sure that eating raw cockroaches can invite parasitic worms inside— the ones that can cause blindness in birds and mammals. So I certainly wouldn’t recommend eating raw roaches — nor would I lick a cockroach or a slug, for that matter.

Good advice from a Bug Chef: Don’t eat raw cockroaches!

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fresh Sheet – July 14, 2012

King Tut isn’t the only Monarch in the house. This week’s shipment of pupae includes 60 more. Check out Danaus plexippus (The Monarch Butterfly) and all the other species now flying in out Tropical Butterfly House.

Costa Rica

02 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
12 - ≤em>Brassolis isthmia (Small-spotted Owl)
08 - Caligo atreus (Yellow-Edged Giant-Owl)
08 - Caligo eurilochus (Forest Giant Owl)
08 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
68 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
60 - Danaus plexippus (The Monarch)
36 - Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
09 - Eryphanis polyxena (Purple Mort Bleu Owl)
31 - Greta oto (Glasswing)
06 - Hamadryas amphinome (Red Calico)
22 - Hamadryas feronia (Variable Calico)
10 - Hamadryas laodamia (Starry Calico)
06 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
35 - Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
34 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
68 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
28 - Hypna clytemnestra (Silver-studded Leafwing)
40 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
13 - 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, July 11, 2012

Amazing Spiders, Man

A big movie hit of this summer is “The Amazing Spider-Man: An IMAX 3D Experience” now playing at Pacific Science Center. Playing not too far away in the Insect Village are some very cool arachnids as well.

Not to upstage Peter Parker’s adventures, the Life Sciences Staff would like to share some spider fun facts:

What species live at PSC? Chilean Rose Tarantula, Black Widow, false black widow, Orb Weaver, and recently, a Wolf Spider*

and a Candy Stripe Spider**.

How old can they get? Pacific Science Center had a Rose Tarantula that live for thirteen years on site – and she was an adult when we got her. We thought this was impressive, because most spiders only live one or two years. But the oldest known tarantula lived to be twenty-eight years old.

Which species is the biggest? For many years it was considered the Goliath Bird Eating Spider, which weighs in at 170 grams (6 oz.). But the Giant Huntsman Spider, discovered in 2001 in Laos, has the widest leg span at 30 centimeters (12 inches). It is a lightly built spider; the Goliath Bird Eating Spider still holds the overall size record.

Which individual species spins the biggest web? The Darwin’s Bark Spider of Madagascar spins a web 25 meters wide (82 feet) across rivers. This orb-weaving spider probably builds in this way to capture mayfly-like insects that occur in large numbers at waterways. It gets its silk over the river by floating a single strand that is carried by the air column until it hits the trees on the far shore and is secured by them. The spider then uses this strand to maneuver while enlarging the web. The weight of the web is substantial, and the lead thread is thought to be one of the strongest naturally occurring materials – tougher than Kevlar!

What do they eat? Nearly all spiders are carnivorous. They have diverse methods of hunting – webs of various kinds, lassos with sticky ends, underwater silk diving bells, traps, running down prey, mimicking prey to lure it to them. Spiders do not have mouthparts to chew, so all of them consume their prey’s liquids, or liquefy their prey before eating. The exception, Bagheera kiplingi, a Costa Rican jumping spider was discovered in 2001, and independently confirmed in 2008. They primarily eat nubs on the leaves of acacia trees. Other spiders have been observed eating pollen and nectar, though all other species appear to just snack on those foods and primarily eat animals.

What are the different uses and kinds of silk? Spiders produce silk for many purposes: wrapping prey, swaddling egg cases, draglines to catch themselves when they fall, parachutes and balloons for floating on air currents, lining their homes to make them soft, building webs to catch prey, and even for parts of their mating rituals. Depending on its use, silk may be strong, soft, sticky, or elastic.

Some other facts:

Spiders have up to eight eyes. The number and arrangement is important in knowing what family a spider belongs to. Having multiple eyes allows spiders to see all around without having to move their head.

Tarantulas not only produce silk from spinnerets in their abdomens, but from the tips of their feet!

So why do you think that there are so many spiders in light fixtures?

*The Wolf Spider was found in Cari’s hallway.
** The Candy Stripe Spider was found on some Blackberry foliage that Terry and Martha were preparing to feed to the stick insects.

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fresh Sheet – July 7, 2012

“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.


05 - Parides sesostris (Emerald-patched Cattleheart)
35 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
05 - Heraclides thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
40 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
05 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
20 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
05 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
35 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded Shoemaker)
40 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
40 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
20 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
10 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)
10 - Phoebis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur)

Total = 270

El Salvador

07 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
10 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
25 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
06 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
10 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
08 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
12 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
12 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
15 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
25 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
60 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
40 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
25 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
10 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
06 - Parides montezuma (Montezuma Cattleheart)
10 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
25 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
10 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
16 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 342


Read more!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tide Pool Collecting, July 2012

The recent low tides for Puget Sound mean only one thing for the Life Science Department: Tide pooling! A few days ago, a spirited crew took off, permit-in-hand, to find interesting animals and artifacts for our Puget Sound Saltwater Tide Pool.

Members of this collection trip included Diana Johns, Katy McCown, Chris Russell, Cari Garand, and our Animal Care Intern, Chloe.

Here’s what was collected:

Moon Snail egg cases - 4
Hermit Crabs – 15
Lined Chitons – 3
Mottled Sea Stars – 4 small
Rocks with barnacles – 1
Plumose Anemones – 1
Aggregating Anemones – 5
Snails – 7
Scallop shell – 1
Burrowing sea cucumber – 1
Christmas anemone – 2
Limpet – 1

Take a close look the next time you visit our tide pool exhibit but please be careful. Some of these critters are fragile and rightfully shy in their new environment.

Once again, we thank PSC Volunteer John Aurelius and the Indianola Beach community for allowing us access to their beautiful tide pools.
Thank you, John, for photographing this expedition.

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