Tuesday, April 10, 2007

wild about wings

I spent this morning looking at butterflies. The Pavilion of Wings at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum opens for its ninth popular season on April 15, but I had a chance to preview the pavilion and get my questions answered by the Museums's resident "Bug Guy", entomologist Brent Karner.

Pavilion of Wings

After a dismal, overcast week, it was nice to see the sun. And good timing, too. Butterflies need the sun to aid in their digestion, so they tend to come out when it's sunny, hide when it's not.

unidentified black/white lace butterfly
unidentified black/orange butterfly
unidentified black/white striped butterfly

There were a few kids in the pavilion, listening to the Bug Guy talk about the 30 different species of butterflies, their lifecycles, defense mechanisms, environments, etc. Mostly, they let the butterflies land on their heads, shoulders, and fingers. It was pretty cool, being in the middle of all these live, free-flying butterflies. If I had a drink in my hand, I could've watched it for hours.

butterfly on boy's finger

Giant Swallowtail (?) on little girl's finger

I really only had one question for the Bug Guy. It makes perfect sense that you're supposed to wear bright clothing to attract butterflies, and that wearing a light floral scent also helps. But I heard that butterflies are attracted to smoke and wanted to know why. He gave me the short answer at first and after looking at my scrunched-up face (I was concentrating), he gave me the long answer. It made perfect sense. Trouble is, I have a hard time retaining information and I forgot his explanation. Guess I'll have to go back. But that's okay. They had these really cute bug and butterfly collecting kits in the gift shop, some venus flytraps, and all sorts of butterfly-themed things. I think I'll be a hero and take my cousin's kids here. I just have to pack a flask and smoke something beforehand.

Pavilion of Wings (on the South Lawn)
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles
April 15 - September 3, 2007, 10am - 5pm
Special ticketed admission: Adults $3; Students & Seniors $2, Museum members and children under 5 are FREE.
Member Preview Days: April 13th (9:30am-5pm) and April 14th (10am-5pm)

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