Two news items were revealed today. One about opening, the other about closing.

ITEM NUMBER ONE:  Natural History museum expansion ok, judge rules. NY Daily News.

amnh gilderA model of the 235,000-square-foot Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, to be built at The American Museum of Natural History. The facility is expected to open in 2020, at the conclusion of the museum’s 150th anniversary celebration. 

More here.

From:               Hazel Davis, Director of Living Exhibits
Subject:            Vivarium Closing
Real Subject:   Mouse eradication

Dear Volunteers,
Many of you have noticed the vivarium is in immediate need of maintenance, and so will
be closed to the public from tomorrow, Wednesday 12th, through December 25th. We hope to address the current situation during that time, but may close again for a period in early January. 
We will be open for our busy holiday period from December 26th through January 2nd and will definitely need your help during that time. If you have not already done so, please let us know if you will miss your shift that week. 
We greatly appreciate your dedication to the Butterfly Conservatory and our visitors. 
Please confirm you have received this message.
Thank you for your patience and Happy Holidays, Hazel



My butterfly book

This reference book was created to help me remember the names and origins of the Vivarium Butterflies. The photos are originals and sometimes culled from the Internet.

Not only is it very useful, but its also a form of expression.

Butterfly book

Impulse is to make a joke about a literary butterfly, but I’d rather steer away from anthropomorphizing.  This Longwing is probably just resting.

book w Harmonia

The cover is an AMNH postcard of Blue Morphos, matching Sid’s shirt quite nicely.

Ga and Butterfly Book

Who “discovered” the Monarchs in Mexico?

Ten thousand years ago, a young girl named Pillpintu wandered around the area of her new home (what is now the State of Michoacán in Mexico). Her family and friends had travelled north for many moons from a land far away (Peru).
Purhépechan girl-1
As she began to explore, she decided to climb the nearby mountain. Suddenly she was surrounded by a flutter of monarch butterflies.

She ran down hill to her mother and exclaimed, “Mama, come quick, I have discovered that orange flowers can fly in our new home!”

Her mother, aunts and sisters followed her up the mountain.

“I don’t think those are flowers,” said Mama. “They look like some kind of beautiful flying bug. I wonder what their name is.”

Soon, the whole village hurried up the mountain to see Pillpintu’s discovery.

The village chief, who also happened to be Pillpintu’s grandmother, declared “We will call these creatures pillpintus, after the person who discovered them!”

That is why, in the Quechua language, this is the word for butterfly.

Pillpintu’s story was inspired by reading about Monarch Butterflies and their yearly migration.

Dr. Lincoln Brower “illuminated the story of the monarch” declared a recent NY Times obituary of this noted scientist.

Dr. Fred Urquhart, another American academic, “discovered the location of the monarch overwintering sites in Mexico, after pursuing migrating monarchs for nearly 40 years.”

These articles spurred me to consider the word “discover” thus leading me to do  research. I found that Brower and Urquhart were the subjects of a 1978 People Magazine story: “Butterfly Biologists Are Aflutter (and a-Feudin’) Over a Royal Hangout.”nat geo cover

This article is more like it:
“Catalina Trail, then known as Cathy Aguado, was the woman on the cover of National Geographic in 1976

She and her partner Ken Brugger (working with Urquhart) would be the first Westerners to walk among and make sense of the millions of Monarch butterflies roosting in the Oyamel trees of the Michoacan forest in Cerro Pelón, about 120 miles east of her birthplace.
Their ‘discovery’– and I use the quotation marks deliberately, since native people knew of the overwintering sites for centuries before Westerners pieced the migration puzzle together–occurred on January 2, 1975. She was 25 years old.”

Works cited

Journey North Discovery article

Butterfly Biologists Are Aflutter (and a-Feudin’) Over a Royal Hangout, People Magazine.

More on Cathy Brugger –

Lincoln Brower, 86, Champion of Monarch Butterfly, NY Times.

Fred Urquhart Obit. Monarch Watch.

Flight of the Butterflies, movie about Dr. Fred Urquhart

Ancient Origins of the Mexican Plaza : From Primordial Sea to Public Space by Logan Wagner, Hal Box, and Susan Kline Morehead

Monarchs in a Changing World: Biology and Conservation of an Iconic Butterfly by Oberhauser, Karen S.; Nail, Kelly R.