Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring Awakening

Amid the smell of death, some moths are working on new life.

Spring has come to the Tropical Butterfly House, and with spring here, the smell of rotting corpses is not far behind. Our corpse plant, Amorphophallus bulbifer, is looking beautiful and getting ready to smell really bad. “Pinky” last bloomed in April 2011 followed by “Corpse Plant #2” a few weeks later.

Guests beware: Plan extra time in your visit because – believe it or not – people love this thing and the unmistakable odor it brings. Last time our corpse plant bloomed, a local television station stopped by for a sniff! Take a look.

Meanwhile, we are having a run of Atlas moths (Atticus atlas). The giant cocoons of these moths have been visible in our emerging window since January. At last, the adult moths are making an appearance. And what an appearance it is! This morning, staff found two Atlas moths together working on the next generation.

Although Pacific Science Center’s permit from the Untied States Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly regulates our ability to display caterpillars in the exhibit, the two moths shown above seem to have not read those regulations! Fortunately for their offspring, we are allowed to keep caterpillars in an enclosed container in an inspected part of the exhibit. With good fortune and good care, we may be displaying the atlas moths’ caterpillars in a few months in our emerging window. This could be a rare chance to watch them making their cocoons.

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