55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
94118
415.379.8000
Regular Hours:

Daily

9:30 am – 5:00 pm

Sunday

11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:

Tuesday

8:30 – 9:30 am

Sunday

10:00 – 11:00 am
Closures
Notices

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Rainforest will be closed Sep. 9 & 10

Rainforests of the World 

June 23, 2010

Butterflies at CAS: Celebrating National Pollinator Week

HAPPY NATIONAL POLLINATOR WEEK! Four years ago the U.S. Senate dubbed the final week of June “National Pollinator Week” to bring attention to the issue of declining pollinator populations. Largely due to habitat loss, pollinators such as butterflies and bees have been dropping. Pollinators not only aid many plants in reproduction, but are also food for other animals. The world would be in a very sad state without them! This blog post is dedicated to sharing information about the butterflies here in our Rainforest dome, what the Academy is doing to support native pollinators and what YOU can do at home to celebrate National Pollinator Week to help preserve pollinators!

epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Butterflies in the Rainforest Dome
To celebrate the importance of critical pollinators in all living habitats we are turning our attention to some of the loveliest pollinators in our Rainforest exhibit, the butterflies.  Our butterflies come to us all the way from beautiful Costa Rica. Cooperative butterfly farmers in Costa Rica have obtained special permits to allow them to rear native butterflies on their land. 

epiphytes

Photo by: Chris Andrews

epiphytes

Photo by: Meghan Schurfrieder

This program helps support local farmers and encourages them to protect pollinators and their critical host plants in the surrounding rainforest.  Farmers plant host plants on their land to feed caterpillars.  Once the caterpillars transform to pupae the farmers collect some to send to us. Here are some pictures of Costa Rica Entomological Supply staff displaying pupa collected from local farmers:

epiphytes

Photo by: Kristen Natoli

epiphytes

Photo by: Sarab Stewart

Pupa is the name we give that tricky stage when the caterpillar transforms into a beautiful winged butterfly.  This transformation takes place inside a protective casing called the chrysalis.  The chrysalis keeps the soon to emerge butterflies safe as they are shipped to the Academy each week.

Malachite (Siproeta stelenes) pupa:
epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Large Owlet (Opsiphanes tamarindi) pupa:
epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

At the Academy the pupae are carefully unpacked and placed in temperature / humidity controlled chambers.

epiphytes

Photo by: Sarab Stewart

Each morning biologists check the chambers for emerged adult which are then released into the Rainforest exhibit. Here is a picture of one of our biologists releasing butterflies for the morning:

epiphytes

Photo by: Kristen Natoli

 

By planting native flowering Costa Rican plants and providing various feeding stations throughout our Rainforest Dome, the butterflies here always have nectar and pollen sources.

Golden Helicon (Heliconius hecale) on flowering Hamealia petens:
epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Banded Orange Longwing (Dradula phaetusa) on flowering Salvia coccinea:
epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Magnificent Owl (Caligo atreus):
epiphytes

Photo by: Sarab Stewart

The butterflies do not reproduce in our exhibit.  We make sure to avoid planting any host plants for their caterpillars to prevent them from reproducing.  Our mini Rainforest is not big enough to accommodate voracious caterpillars munching their way to adulthood!

The Academy and Native Pollinators
In addition to supporting the butterflies on exhibit, the Academy also supports local pollinators in Golden Gate Park. Our Living Roof is home to nine species of native annuals and perennials.

epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Although our Living Roof has only been in existence since 2008, a study by San Francisco State University biology students in 2009 showed that Bay Area native insects were already more prevalent on our roof than other areas in Golden Gate Park. Read all about the study HERE.

Our Business Entrance side (along Middle Drive) also has many Bay Area native plants that pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths, flies and hummingbirds love!  Plants which include Lupinus spp., California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) and Monkeyflower (Mimulus spp.) are some of our local pollinators’ favorites!

Here is a picture of one of our many mini gardens along Middle Drive:
epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Check out the corbicula, or, “pollen basket” on the leg of this bumble bee at our garden!:
epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

What You Can Do
Whether it be in celebration of National Pollinator Week, or because you just love pollinators as much as we do, try planting some flowering Bay Area native plants in your backyard, sidewalk planters, balcony, or front lawn! Planting native species not only attract native wildlife but are also less maintenance compared to plants that are normally grown in different climates. Here are some of the plants that do well in areas of San Francisco:

Bees cannot resist lovely Seaside Buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium):
epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Hummingbirds adore Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus ):
epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Not just an eye-pleaser, Ceanothus spp. are also loved by pollinators:
epiphytes

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Be sure consider some of the following when choosing your plants:
How much sun/shade does your area have?
What kind of soil do you have?
How hot does your area get?
Pollinator Partnership is a great resource to get started.
With our help, pollinators will be here to stay! In the spirit of National Pollinator Week, meet our butterflies up close in the Rainforest Dome, and put some flowering native plants in the ground for the wonderful pollinators at home!


Filed under: Butterflies,Plants — Paphiopedilum @ 8:57 pm

2 Comments »

  1. great job, kristen and rachel! very informative and wonderful pics!

    Comment by kim mosler — June 24, 2010 @ 5:20 am

  2. [...] For more general information on the Arapaima gigas, refer the Rainforest FAQ’s. [...]

    Pingback by Rainforests of the World: California Academy of Sciences — December 9, 2010 @ 11:41 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

The Rainforest Team

   

Academy biologists share the inside scoop on the Academy's 'Rainforest of the World' exhibit.

Academy Blogroll