Tuesday, April 15, 2008
First of all, has it really been a week? Argh, not posting makes me feel so incompetent.
Now that I've got that off my chest, I want to share some nifty butterfly photos with you. I can't show you much knitting these days due to it being a secret again, so you'll have to bear with me for a bit. Or, you know, just ignore this post.
A friend and I went to see the Butterflies and Plants: Partners in Evolution exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History last week. While ostensibly the message is encapsulated in the title, my guess is that most visitors went to see the live butterfly greenhouse and didn't bother looking at the rest of the displays. It seemed like half the kids in the greenhouse were screaming with excitement while the other half were screaming with fear. Regardless, it was fun and worth the $6 and the early-morning trek across town to be the first ones in to the exhibition.
The focal point of the exhibition is an enclosed greenhouse with tropical plants, an enclosed cabinet for protecting butterfly cocoons, and dozens if not hundreds of live butterflies flying around at will. The butterflies had sugar water and citrus fruits to eat and lots of plants to hide in. It was probably 85 degrees and 90% humidity in the greenhouse, which wasn't the most pleasant, but obviously better for the critters.
We saw many different kinds of butterflies, including Monarchs, different kinds of swallowtails, butterflies that looked like leaves, and the lovely blue Morpho. Many of them I was not sure of their names.
Sadly I couldn't get a photo of any of those iridescent Morphos - if they're flying, they are moving too fast to take a good photo, and if they're sitting, their wings are folded to show the brown underside. This is probably a Morpho, but it doesn't look so impressive this way!
This one did have a name we knew - the Atlas moth. This giant is one of the largest lepidopterans known, with a wingspan of up to 10-12 inches. We didn't see it until the very end of our time in the greenhouse, and it was worth seeing. Fiber enthusiasts (are you still reading along?) will note that these are also cultivated for their silk production.
There was also a very friendly butterfly that, when resting, resembles a leaf. This one hung out on us, clinging tightly to clothing until it was removed.
After the butterflies, we went to see the Hope Diamond (it has a whole room almost all to itself) and the dinosaurs in the museum. The great value of a free museum is that you don't feel obligated to see it all at once, and so there is always something waiting for you when you return.