PacSci Perspectives

Fresh Sheet – March 25, 2017

by | Mar 25, 2017

Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)

Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)

What’s in a Name?

Carl Linnaeus’ scientific system of naming all life forms includes two Latin names, the genus and the species. The genus designation (always capitalized) is the grouping or tribe of an organism whereas the species name applies only to that one organism. Have you ever wondered how some animals get their species names? We do!

This week’s featured butterfly is the Morpho polyphemus and you will soon see many of them flying around our Tropical Butterfly House. The common name for this creature, White Morpho, is obvious but the scientific species name is a bit more curious. Could this butterfly have been named for the character in Homer’s Odyssey? Polyphemus is the name of a one-eyed, man-eating giant on the island of Cyclops. What characteristics of Morpho polyphemus make this beautiful butterfly worthy of such a name?

In fact, many butterflies are given species names from Greek mythology: Eurypyle, Belus, Hecale, Ismenius, and Demophon just to name a few from this week’s Fresh Sheet. Look them up! Then ponder why the butterfly was so named. Perhaps the name has no hidden or descriptive meaning at all.

Bioproductores de El Salvador

10 – Anaea eurypyle (Pointed Leafwing)
10 – Anaea nobilis (Noble Leafwing)
10 – Archeoprepona demophoon (Hubner’s Prepona)
25 – Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
15 – Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
20 – Catonephele numilia (Halloween Butterfly)
15 – Eurytides thymbraeus (White-crested Swallowtail)
12 – Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
20 – Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
15 – Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
75 – Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
50 – Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
20 – Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
20 – Papilio erostratus (Dusky Swallowtail)
25 – Papilio pilumnus (Three-tailed Swallowtail)
30 – Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
25 – Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
9 – Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
20 – Tithorea tarricina (Cream-Spotted Tigerwing)

Total = 441

“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.

These butterflies typically arrive as pupae on the Thursday or Friday before the Fresh Sheet is published. Some of these butterflies will start emerging the day they arrive or the next day, but other species may take a full week before they reach adulthood. After emerging, they may live for a week or even a few months! While we love sharing a variety of species with our guests, we cannot guarantee that any specific species will be flying on the day that you visit Pacific Science Center.

If you are interested in photographing a specific butterfly and would like to be updated about when it is flying in the Tropical Butterfly House, please email with details and your contact information.