Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fresh Sheet – January 31, 2015

This week’s featured butterfly from El Salvador is Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail), a dimorphic species. Is the above photograph of a male or female? Hint: The female seems to mimic Parides photinus.

Bioproductores de El Salvador

09 - Archeoprepona demophoon (Hubner’s Prepona)
25 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
25 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
25 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
20 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
25 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
25 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
10 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
30 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
25 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
15 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
25 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
25 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
25 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)

Total = 309

“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!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fresh Sheet - January 24, 2015

A good number of Blue Morphos (Morpho peleides) has arrived this week. These butterflies, along with their cousins Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho), are the next subjects of our longevity study. On your next visit to our Tropical Butterfly House, see if you can spot the spots!

Suministros Entimológicos Costarricenses, SA
Costa Rica

10 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
28 - Caligo eurilochus (Forest Giant Owl)
46 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
36 - Greta oto (Glasswing)
66 - Hamadryas laodamia (Starry Calico)
50 - Heliconius cydno (Cydno Longwing)
06 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
19 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
20 - Heliconius hewitsoni (Hewitson’s Longwing)
14 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
06 - Heliconius sapho (Sapho Longwing)
31 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
14 - Myscelia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
40 - Papilio thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
05 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)

Total = 391

“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, January 21, 2015

Featured Plant: Pandanus amaryllifolius

Life Sciences Horticulturist Jenn Purnell and her volunteers have been busy transforming our Tropical Butterfly House into a beautiful educational oasis. This month we are featuring the Pandan plant (Pandanus amarylliflous).

Species Name: Pandanus amaryllifolius

Common Names: pandan (Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Java, Philippines), pondak (Moluccas), rampe (India), plus many other common names in different languages throughout Southeast Asia

Family Name: Pandanaceae, Scewpine Family

Ecology / Ethno / Natural History Notes: Pandan has been cultivated throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific for a long time - possibly thousands of years. Its leaves produce the same aroma compound found in basmati rice, jasmine rice, and white bread (2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline). The leaves are added to rice dishes, made into drinks, used to flavor desserts, and made into fragrant food wrappers. (Check out this pandan & coconut rice recipe - ). Pandan is also used medicinally, in ceremonies, and as a cockroach deterrent! Though pandan can sometimes be found growing wild in tropical places, not much is written in English about its natural origins. There are no known observations of female pandan flowers or fruits; male pandan flowers have only been observed in the Moluccas archipelago in Indonesia. Because of this, it is propagated through suckers or cuttings. As you might imagine, studies indicate that this species has very low genetic diversity. Though the pandan isn't a known host plant for any of our Lepidoptera, it is reported to be host plant for a Malaysian butterfly, the hoary palmer (Unkana ambasa batara).

How to Identify it: We recently added a pandan plant to our Tropical Butterfly House, in the center bed across from the Emerging Window. Usually the best way to identify a plant is by its reproductive structures, but pandan (almost) never flowers. The easiest way to find it in the Butterfly House is to look for a 1-2 foot tall plant that looks like a nondescript, tropical monocot (sort of like a wide-leafed grass). Then lean in and take a big whiff - does it smell like basmati rice? Or bread? Or possibly caramel corn? If so, you've found the pandan! Some other standard Pandanaceae traits to look for - it has aeriel prop roots, and the leaves look like they are arranged spirally because the stem is twisted (thus the family name "Screwpine"). More mature plants may have prickles on the edges of the leaves - we haven't noticed any yet.

How to Care For it: Full sun to part shade, high humidity, moist soil high in organic material, slightly acidic soil. I'm sure we'll learn more the longer we have it in the house!

Sources & Further Reading:

Read more!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fresh Sheet – January 17, 2015

The big news in our Tropical Butterfly House this week was the emergence of an Argema mimosa (African Moon moth) that had been in diapause since July of last year. Perhaps the remaining two cocoons will emerge soon as well. Unfortunately, these beautiful Saturnids have short lives so come by and see them soon!

Bioproductores de El Salvador

20 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
25 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
10 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
14 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
25 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
10 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
10 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
25 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
12 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
20 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
10 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
30 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)

Total = 211

Neotropical Insects NV

10 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
05 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
15 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
05 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
40 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
61 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
61 - Biblis hyperia (Red Rim)
60 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
60 - Eryphanis polyxena (Purple Mort Bleu Owl)
03 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
20 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 340

Grand Total = 551

“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, January 13, 2015


We thought we had another week to prepare for the crawdads’ arrival. Their tracking number indicated that they hadn’t even shipped out from the east coast yet, but sure enough their package arrived on Wednesday morning. All twelve crawdads (AKA crayfish, AKA freshwater lobsters, and AKA mudbugs) were at Pacific Science Center way ahead of schedule, and we were really excited!

When we opened up the shipping cooler, all twelve sets of eyes fixed on our own. Crawdads are incredibly aware and interactive. It was eerie to see them out of the water, in a Styrofoam box packed with moss, but the packaging soon made sense. Crawdads get their oxygen from the water touching their feathery gills. The moss in their shipping container was saturated with enough water to keep their gills wet, and oxygen readily available. In fact, had the cooler been filled with water, without a pump, it is possible they could have drowned on the way to Seattle.

Though their temporary home did them well, we rushed to prep them a new home in our Insect Village. We decided that six of the crawdads should go on exhibit, and six could stay behind the scenes. This means we had to prepare water and tanks for them. Crawdads love furniture and hiding places, so each tank had to be full of options for them. We also needed to hook up bubblers and pumps so that they could get enough oxygen in their tanks. After all of this preparation, it was time to transfer the stunned crawdads to their new home!

Despite the rush, we feel that the final product turned out amazing! The crawdads have plenty of hiding places, are getting along very well with one another, and have proved to be an exciting addition to the Insect Village. We made room for the crawdads between the vinegaroon and the dune scorpion - arthropods with similar segments and body structures. Hopefully, this will get people to think about why they see crawdads as food but don’t think of scorpions as food. That said, Pacific Science Center’s Gift Store sells lollypops with Dune Scorpions in the center for people interested in trying.

Definitely stop by and visit the crawdads when you get a chance!

Note: These crawdads are not native to the Puget Sound region. In other parts of the country, crawdads of this species have been placed into waterways where they have become invasive. Pacific Science Center is excited to display crawdads but reminds our readers not to release captive animals into new ecosystems.

Read more!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Fresh Sheet – January 3, 2015

The first shipment of pupae for 2015 contains butterflies that pupated last year in San Salvador, traveled 3015 miles (4853 km) and two time zones just to emerge in our Tropical Butterfly House. Come by and visit them.

Bioproductores de El Salvador
El Salvador

15 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
24 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
10 - Catonephele numilia (Halloween Butterfly)
19 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
30 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
20 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
15 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
30 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
20 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
30 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
20 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
25 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
10 - Siderone nemesis (Red-striped Leafwing)
07 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 275
“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!