PacSci Perspectives


Fresh Sheet – March 2, 2019

by | Mar 2, 2019

Attacus atlas (Atlas moth)

Attacus atlas (Atlas moth)

This week we are getting pupae from Malaysia, including ten Atlas Moths. Our vendor will attempt to send us primarily male moths, per our request. To do so they would have to sex the pupae for us. With a reproduction exhibit on the way, let’s talk a bit about how one would do that.

Most butterflies are either male or female, and the larvae and pupae are as well. Their reproductive organs are not needed yet and are immature throughout those stages, although males of a few translucent species of caterpillar show the developing testes through the skin. But as pupae, male and female Atlas Moths start to look different. The females have larger wings and bodies, while the males have larger antennae, and the genitalia are different. All of these features are visible as markings on the skin of the pupa.

Unfortunately these moth pupae are encased in thick silk cocoons (unlike butterflies – their pupae are bare). Our vendors cut small notches in the silk so that we can peak inside and check the status of our pupae.

Come visit our Tropical Butterfly House and try to determine whether you are looking at a male or female Atlas Moth. We’d love to hear about what you find!

Penang Butterfly Farm
Penang, Malaysia

10 – Attacus atlas (Atlas Moth)
32 – Catopsilia Scylla (Orange Emigrant)
55 – Cethosia cyane (Leopard Lacewing)
13 – Cethosia hypsea (Malay Lacewing)
20 – Danaus agleoides (Blue Glassy Tiger)
26 – Danaus vulgaris (Blue Glassy Tiger)
12 – Hypolimnas bolina (Blue Moon)
50 – Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
12 – Lexias dirtea (Archduke)
10 – Papilio memnon (Great Memnon)
80 – Parthenos Sylvia (The Clipper)
12 – Precis atlites (Gray Pansy)
38 – Tirumala septentrionis (Dark Blue Tiger)
80 – Vindula dejone (The Cruiser)

Total: 450


“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.

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Love the Tropical Butterfly House? Spread that love by adopting one of our beautiful winged creatures! Starting at just $50, your adoption will help care for the butterflies in the Tropical Butterfly House, and support of the hands-on science programming offered at Pacific Science Center. And, you’ll receive some exclusive benefits for your generosity.