PacSci Perspectives

 

Fresh Sheet – July 14, 2018

by | Jul 14, 2018

This side of a Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly) chrysalis is typically hidden when viewed in the emerging window. The silk is at the top and imprints of the eyes, legs, antennae, and proboscis are visible within the delineated section.

This side of a Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly) chrysalis is typically hidden when viewed in the emerging window. The silk is at the top and imprints of the eyes, legs, antennae, and proboscis are visible within the delineated section.

This week, we continue to explore the pupal life stage of a butterfly. We previously discussed pupae that wiggle and what a pupa looks like right before a butterfly is about to emerge. This week, we talk anatomy.

Viewers of our emerging window might not be aware that all of our pupae are hanging head down in the window in order to help ensure they will be able to successfully eclose, or emerge, to their adult form. In the wild, when a caterpillar is about to pupate, it spins a little bit of silk to attach itself to a branch or leaf. Most species suspend themselves upside-down. After the caterpillar spins the silk, it sloughs off its last shed of skin and becomes a chrysalis.

Look closely at a chrysalis and you can see some of the butterfly parts-to-be. The eyes are on the bottom of the chrysalis when it hangs down. Right next to the eyes are the parts that will eventually become the legs, antennae, and proboscis of the butterfly. On both sides of all those body parts are what look like the shrinky-dink versions of butterfly wings.

When a butterfly leaves the chrysalis, it pops open that little triangle cap over its legs, and pulls its thorax, abdomen and wings all the way out, to hang down from the now empty chrysalis.

But how did it get to this point from a caterpillar? Radiolab explores this topic in this podcast.

Bioproductores de El Salvador
El Salvador

30 – Anaea eurypyle (Pointed Leafwing)
20 – Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
10 – Catonephele numilia (Grecian Shoemaker)
15 – Eurytides branchus (Dual-spotted Swallowtail)
20 – Eurytides epidaus (Long-tailed Kite Swallowtail)
10 – Eurytides thymbraeus (White-crested Swallowtail)
10 – Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
30 – Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
15 – Morpho peleides (Peleides Blue Morpho)
60 – Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
35 – Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
10 – Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
20 – Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
20 – Archeoprepona demophoon (Hubner’s Prepona)
16 – Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
12 – Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)
9 – Tithorea tarricina (Cream-Spotted Tigerwing)

Total = 352

“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 Butterflies@pacsci.org with details and your contact information.

 

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