Nature Gardens at NHM: LA's Urban Nature

Showing posts with label : Blog

July 12, 2013

Fire in the L.A. River

Many of you know I am a huge L.A. river fan. As a fan of the river and an advocate for river access, I was of course shocked and worried to hear about the fire that took place in the pilot recreation zone last Saturday.

The fire raged on a sandbar adjacent to the river bike path (image courtesy of Anthea Raymond).

The fire was caused by a gasoline tanker that crashed in the interchange tunnel between the 2 freeway and Interstate 5 (incidentally causing some of the most heinous traffic some of us have experienced in a long while). After it overturned, some of the 8,500 gallons of gas it was transporting leaked into a storm drain and traveled about half a mile into the river. The resulting fire was thankfully constrained to a...


July 1, 2013

June Beetles and Night Lights

This last weekend I stayed at Table Mountain campground in the Los Angeles National Forest and was visited by a group of beetles. No, not the British pop group out on a time-travelling-night-time-forest jaunt – though that would be blog worthy indeed. My camp buddies and I were visited by a gang of 40 adult male scarab beetles!

Three of the gang, hanging out on our picnic table. No they're not eating our hot dogs, they prefer pine needles

But what are they, you may ask? They are Ten-lined June Beetles, Polyphylla decemlineata, one of California's largest and most conspicuous scarab beetle species. And how did I know they were all males? This species exhibits sexual dimorphism (a fancy way for saying males and females look differently), which is most noticeable in the antennae (sure you could look at...


June 19, 2013

Bee Sex in the Nature Gardens

In July 2011, our Curator of Entomology, Dr. Brian Brown, brought in some old redwood he had lying around his yard. He wasn't just trying to pawn off some lumber he didn't need anymore, we wanted it to make some bee hotels.  Jerome Brown, one of our amazing exhibit technicians, fabricated two hotels and Phil Bouchard personally drilled the over 200 quarter inch holes (about an inch deep). Thanks guys!

Bee hotel in its new home by our hummingbird feeders.

This spring we finally saw the first bees using the hotels! I was so excited, I jumped up and down, Brian did not, he just smiled. We watched as bees checked out the little holes and then I saw two fall to the ground. "Oh look they're fighting," I exclaimed. "No," Brian responded, "they're using the hotel like they...


June 6, 2013

Memory Mapping Los Angeles @ Leo Politi Elementary

This Sunday our brand new Nature Lab opens for every Angeleno to enjoy. Aside from all the other fun stuff that will be in the exhibit — live animals, camera trap footage, awesome taxidermy — it's going to be a place to tell stories about L.A.'s surprising biodiversity. During the development of the Nature Lab we would often find ourselves sitting around a table telling stories of the crazy nature encounters we'd had. Like the time my friend Kristin left her favorite bar in downtown and saw a deer walking down the street! Seriously.

Kristin's L.A. nature memory illustrated by Martha Rich:

To encourage visitors to recount their own L.A. nature memories we captured 16 unique stories (including Kristin's) and had six amazing illustrators (Brian Rea, Mark Todd, Martha Rich, Liz Burrill, Lizzie Swift, and Anne...


June 4, 2013

Rattlesnakes Like the Los Angeles Times

There are only ten days left until our new exhibit, Nature Lab, opens. Last week, I introduced you to some babies that are moving in, and this week I want to introduce you to rescued contraband!
 
This is Obsidian, our new Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus helleri.
 

Obsidian chilling with his morning paper!
 

Snakes, particularly rattlesnakes, are often maligned and misunderstood. But hold on a minute, any creature that is cultured enough to enjoy the Los Angeles Times should be given a second chance – surely.
 
Let me give you the back story first; Obsidian is a rescued pet from a drug bust that took place in Riverside. Although, his previous owners were...

May 29, 2013

Spring Babies in the Nature Lab

There are only 17 days left until our Nature Gardens and Nature Lab exhibits open! This makes me extremely excited and a little bit nauseous. To cope with the craziness, all I have to do is go and visit  our new Nature Lab babies. Just in case you're feeling stressed out too, here's some baby love for you:

This is our new program opossum, Didelphis virginiana. She is a rescue animal that we were lucky enough to get from a local rehabber. She is blind in one eye (from a dog attack) which makes her unreleasable, and therefore our newest and cutest ambassador for L.A. wildlife.

 
Look she smiles, even though she's blind in one eye!
 
We also have 14 baby Norway rats, Rattus norvigicus! They are currently in training to move into...

May 10, 2013

NHM Nature Blog

In July 2011, our Curator of Entomology Dr. Brian Brown brought in some old cedar wood he had lying around his yard. He wasn't just trying to pawn off some lumber he didn't need anymore, we wanted it to make some bee hotels. Jerome Brown, one of amazing exhibit technicians, fabricated two hotels and Phil Bouchard personally drilled the over 200 deluxe suites bees could occupy.

They were installed on the lawn next to our Butterfly Pavilion and I waited to see what would happen. That first year nothing did! I was disappointed, but had not lost hope. Fast forward to Fall 2012, and part of our new Nature Gardens were open. Brian and I had seen a lot of bee activity and thought it would be good to try moving the hotels over there. 

On a weekly walk through the gardens this Spring, Brian and I saw our first bees using the hotel! I was so excited. We watched as bees checked out the little holes and then I saw two fall to the ground....


May 7, 2013

Sea Monsters or Beaked Whales

WARNINGS:

What you are about to look at is gross! Also, this post is not about L.A. urban nature, it is about  Orange County marine nature. But, I contend that some beaches are pretty dang urban and Orange County isn't that different from L.A.right? 

Plus, this is sort of sea monster-ish and therefore awesome, I couldn't resist!

This is not the rotting carcass of a sea monster!  

 *Note the ribs still covered with rotting flesh, and the exposed vertebrae. Jim said it smelled pretty awfull.

 So, what is that mass of rotting flesh? According to Jim Dines, our excellent Mammalogy Collection's Manager, it is a beached beaked whale.

 Here's the account Jim wrote up for our Research & Collections newsletter:

...


May 2, 2013

Do you have Museum Malaise?

You better not! However, just in case you do I have a line of curative agents perfect for any and all afflicted with such exhibit ennui. The elixirs I speak of are our new L.A. nature exhibits, Nature Lab and Nature Gardens, and they're about to open on June 9!

I've written loads of posts about both exhibits, so I thought it might be interesting to have a guest writer this week (I swear it's not because I'm too busy)! Dean Pentcheff from our Research and Collections staff is going to answer the question that everyone will be asking when the Nature Gardens open, who's camping in that tent out there?

"Peek between the bushes in the Nature Garden and you’ll see what looks like someone’s overnight camping spot. We do host overnight sleepovers at NHM but we don’t do it in the garden (at least not yet). What’s going on here?

...

April 26, 2013

Sink Bugs, Bathtub Bugs, Eyelash Bugs, or House Centipedes?

Ever seen a weird creature stranded in your bathtub, that could easily be mistaken for a discarded fake eyelash? Two of my friends, Matt and Kristi, have (p.s. they're Museum members too). In fact, they often find them in their bathroom. However, this week they had an unusual sighting. Matt was sleepily making breakfast and pulled out a package of oatmeallo and behold an eyelash bug darted out from the cupboard! Seriously, these bugs are FAST, so it's not surprising that it startled him. Quick to recover, he grabbed the nearest empty jar (only a bit of pickle juice was left), and captured the bug. Kristi kindly brought the bug to the Museum, so it could pose for a photo shoot and I could write this blog.

Thanks guys!

Captive Eyelash Bug

Love the gloves Kristi! 

So what is it? This bug is a House Centipede...