Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fresh Sheet – June 27, 2015

There will be a rainbow of colors inside and outside our Tropical Butterfly House this weekend. Come by, take pride, and enjoy the diversity of life around us!

Penang Butterfly Farm

70 - Catopsilia scylla (Orange Emigrant)
70 - Cethosia cyane (Leopard Lacewing)
20 - Cethosia hypsea (Malay Lacewing)
20 - Chilasa clytia (Common Mime)
13 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue moon)
20 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
05 - Lexias dirtea (Archduke)
10 - Papilio memnon (Great Memnon)
70 - Parthenos sylvia (The Clipper)
20 - Tirumala septentrionus (Dark Blue Tiger)
30 – Troides helena (Common Birdwing)
47 - Vindula dejone (The Cruiser)

Total = 380

“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, June 21, 2015

Blueberries and Pollinators

As we wrap up Pollinator Week 2015, we’d like to share a note from the Horticulture Log:
“Staked-up the blueberry plant, which was starting to lean with the weight of its fruit.”

This is excellent news for this plant. In early spring when the plant was blooming it didn’t look like we’d be seeing blueberries this year.

During the weeks the blueberry plant (Vaccinium corymbosum, Chandler) was blooming, Horticulturist Jenn Purnell temporarily placed a second, potted blueberry bush of a different variety (Pink Lemonade) nearby so that busy pollinators could cross pollinate the two plants, ensuring heavier fruit set for both of them. As you can see, the technique worked.

Blueberries are pollinated by honeybees and bumble bees. Commercial blueberry growers are still fine-tuning the relationship between the plants and their pollinators especially honey bees. As pollinators face multiple threats, studies such as one being done at Washington State University will continue to spell out best practices for keeping bees healthy.

To read some scientific research on blueberry cross-pollination, go to

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fresh Sheet – June 20, 2015

This week, Pacific Science Center welcomes Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body, the summer solstice, and over 300 Central American butterflies. Stop by and join the fun!

Bioproductores de El Salvador

25 - Anaea eurypyle (Pointed Leafwing)
10 - Archeoprepona demophoon (Hubner’s Prepona) [males]
25 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
20 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
15 - Eurytides epidaus (Long-tailed Kite Swallowtail)
20 - Eurytides thymbraeus(White-crested Swallowtail)
05 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
20 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
20 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
25 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
20 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
15 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
20 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
20 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio garamas (Magnificent Swallowtail)
15 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
10 - Parides iphidamas (Transandean Cattleheart)
10 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona) [males]
09 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)

Total = 329

“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!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Farewell to Spring

Each month our Life Sciences team chooses one plant and one animal to learn more about. Often it's hard to choose just one of each, but this month our plant choice was unanimous: Clarkia amoena, “Farewell to Spring.” As we celebrate Pollinator Week and welcome the summer solstice, Clarkia seems a good choice.

Clarkia amoena is also called either “Summer’s Darling,” “Herald of Summer,” “Atlas Flower”, “Rocky Mountain Garland Flower,” “Godetia,” “Satin Flower,” “Red Ribbons,” or “Fairy Fans.” Horticulture Intern Sharette came back from a walking tour of our planting spaces knowing she had to tell more people about it.

Is it the brilliant colors or perhaps its sudden appearance on the scene that makes the flower so popular? Last week it was just some scrappy looking plants we thought might not have been intentional. Then overnight it splashed out in hot pink splendor.

The same eye catching color and simultaneous bloom that impress us have a similar effect on the bees and butterflies that pollinate it. One indication that this flower’s colors are primarily about attracting pollinators is that it closes up at night. The flower needs its visually oriented daytime pollinators to find it, but it keeps itself safe at night when its colors won’t be seen. Another hint is the patches of brighter red on the pink petals. Markings such as this help orient flying insects toward the center of the flower.

Sharette was initially sad to learn that this species is an annual, but its heavy investment in colorful blooms ensures pollination during its May to August bloom time. Clarkia will then begin to self-sow so that next year a new crop of these amazing flowers can grow in the same location.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What’s That Smell? Redux

When we walk into our Tropical Butterfly House the first smell is often the pleasant, fragrant, jasmine flower mingled with other, subtler floral bouquets. On the morning of June 16th, however, the scent that greeted visitors was very different. Underneath the floral perfume was something stinky. Could it be one of our Amorphophallus bulbifer plants AKA corpse plant?

Last time we smelled this plant we thought there might be a dead animal hidden in a crawl space. It was that strong. Since then, we wouldn’t have thought in 100 years that we could be uncertain of the corpse plant's odor. This time the scent was more elusive. This time there was a subtle, disturbing aroma that mingled uncomfortably with the usual fragrances.

So why does A. bulbifer stink? The flower’s adaptation seems peculiar in our Tropical Butterfly House, where brightly colored, pleasantly scented neighboring flowers surround it. The thing is, not all insects are attracted to the same things. Carrion insects are attracted to the smell of decaying flesh. A. bulbifer is providing pollen for a niche market of pollinators. Flies and carrion beetle smell its scent and are drawn to it in hopes of finding a meal, a mate, and/or a place to rear their young. These insects embrace the flower only to get stuck and trapped in its spathe until they are covered in its pollen. Then, once they wriggle their way out, they might get tricked again by another corpse plant, and just like that: pollination.

The scent is very strong, and very short-lived. By the end of the day, there was no longer a trace of the stench. Though brief, we were very happy; what a great start to National Pollinator Week!

Although we first think of bees, butterflies, and birds as pollinators, remember that sometimes an unsuspecting and naïve carrion insect, lured in by the prospect of a yummy dead animal in which to feast or raise young, is a pollinator, too. And that’s pretty cool!

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Monday, June 15, 2015

National Pollinator Week

June 15 – 21 is National Pollinator Week, first designated by the US Senate in 2007. What began as a public awareness campaign highlighting the important role bees, bats, birds, butterflies, and beetles play in our ecosystem, Pollinator Week is now an international celebration.

Once again, we at Pacific Science Center will be celebrating Pollinator Week as well. Stay tuned to the PacSciLife blog for stories about pollinators from the Life Sciences Department.

Remember to take time this week to appreciate the your local pollinators. Either share your knowledge or research ways to attract and protect these valuable creatures.

Read more!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Fresh Sheet – June 13, 2015

In spite of the inclement weather in Costa Rico, our pupae shipment for this week has arrived. It’s now awaiting your visit to our Tropical Butterfly House.

Suministros Entomológicos Costerricenses, S.A.
Costa Rica

18 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
06 - Archeoprepona meander (Three-toned Prepona)
08 - Biblis hyperia (Red Rim)
06 - Brassolis isthmia (Small-spotted Owl)
31 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
47 - Catonephele numilia (Halloween Butterfly)
06 - Eryphanis polyxena (Purple Mort Bleu Owl)
37 - Greta oto (Glasswing)
10 - Hamadryas amphinome (Red Calico)
12 - Hamadryas laodamia (Starry Calico)
25 - Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
10 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
18 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
11 - Heliconius hewitsoni (Hewitson’s Longwing)
22 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
47 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
31 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
26 - Myselia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
12 - Papilio thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
08 - Siproeta epaphus (Rusty-tipped Page)

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, June 10, 2015

The Subject is Roses

The solstice is approaching and our plants are in full swing, with new flowers and fruits appearing each week. We hope everyone is enjoying these long, luminous days!

Rabbie Burns once sang, “O, my Luve's like a red, red rose, that's newly sprung in June...” It was a good botanical observation.

Robert Burns lived in Scotland in the 1700’s, when all the rose plants in Europe bloomed only once in early summer (often June), in a mass profusion of flowers. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that rose breeders began to cross European and Asian roses, and Europeans experienced rose plants that bloomed continuously through summer. And orange roses!

Michael Pollen wrote an interesting, slightly risqué piece about how old European garden roses became the hybrid roses we know today. Read “Into the Rose Garden” here:

As we post this, the new rose plant in our planter bowl garden is blooming! Ours is an English hybrid rose, “introduced” in 2005. It has some typical hybrid rose traits – a smaller plant, it will have repeating orange blooms all summer. But it was also bred to resemble an old English garden rose with a high petal count and tons of fragrance.

In the tradition of European rose breeding, our rose is named after a woman, Lady Emma Hamilton. From the breeder’s website: “Lady Emma Hamilton was Horatio Nelson's lover and we have named this rose to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.” You can read about Lady Emma Hamilton here:,_Lady_Hamilton

See the resemblance?

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Fresh Sheet – June 6, 2015

As they prepare for winter, our South American butterfly farms have sent us more than five hundred pupae to emerge in the North American summer. Come welcome the new arrivals.

Neotropical Insects NV

10 - Battus polydamas (Polydamus Swallowtail)
12 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
08 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
22 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
50 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
08 - Biblis hyperia (Red Rim)
15 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
20 - Eryphanis polyxena (Purple Mort Bleu Owl)
15 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
30 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 190

Bioproductores de El Salvador

25 - Anaea eurypyle (Pointed Leafwing)
10 - Archeoprepona demophoon [males] (Hubner’s Prepona)
25 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
10 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
18 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
14 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
15 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
19 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
10 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
10 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
12 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
25 - Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
15 - Papilio garamas (Magnificent Swallowtail)
25 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
25 - Parides montezuma (Montezuma Cattleheart)
10 - Archeoprepona demophon [males] (One-spotted Prepona)
25 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
24 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 327

Grand Total = 517

“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, June 2, 2015

Painted Ladies in Our Tropical Butterfly House

Our typical pupae shipments do not include Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) although a lot of people ask if we have them because they are most often the species of butterfly used in classroom butterfly kits. Occasionally however, Painted Lady butterflies end up in our Tropical Butterfly House. Here is one story of how they found their way in!

Last October, Horticulture volunteer Deirdre called us because her second graders and another second grade class had just completed their butterfly unit at Parkwood Elementary School. Their studies concluded with over 40 Painted Lady butterflies in flight cages. Although it is true that you can care for butterflies in the flight cage from a typical emergence kit, there is not very much room for them to fly. As a result, many people opt to release their butterflies outdoors making sure sure the species is not invasive to the region before doing so. As a volunteer at Pacific Science Center, Deirdre knew that October weather in Seattle would not be optimal for such a release. The Parkwood Elementary Painted Lady butterflies were in need of a good home, so she got in touch with the Animal Care department. We arranged a release for the classroom’s butterflies into our Tropical Butterfly House.

Deirdre dropped them off herself, and with the assistance of Animal Caretakers Lauren and Katie, released each and every one into the house. Her students had each raised a butterfly, from caterpillar to pupa to butterfly, so Deirdre knew how attached they had become to their butterflies; each butterfly had a name. In order to celebrate their release, and give the kids a chance to say goodbye, Deirdre asked us to take pictures of their first moments in our Tropical Butterfly House.

When Deirdre showed her class the pictures from their release, they were so excited:

“That’s Turbo there! On that fruit!” one kid exclaimed.

“And that’s Kate! I recognize her!” shouted another.

The Painted Ladies from Parkwood Elementary School spent the rest of their lives in our Tropical Butterfly House and some of the kids even got a chance to come visit them!

If you ever end up with Painted Lady butterflies (or other species) in the winter, call us a week before you would like to drop them off and they could live in our Tropical Butterfly House too. Another solution: wait to start your butterfly kit when the weather is warm and dry, so that you can release your Painted Ladies into the wild!

Read more!