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Nature Gardens at NHM: LA's Urban Nature

Showing posts with label : Blog

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...


April 18, 2013

Glowworms in LA

On Monday night, I found a glowworm while I was up in Griffith Park! That's right people, glowworms really do exist, and they're right here in our city.

No it wasn't a discarded 80s toy, like these (though I might have been equally excited if it was):
 

Photo taken by Astronit
 

It was like this:

Check out those sexy pectinate antennae!

 
This beauty of a specimen is a male Western Banded Glowworm, Zarhipis integripennis. I know it's a male because it doesn't glow and it isn't wormy. That's right, only...

April 3, 2013

LA 2050: Vote for NHM

Hey Angelenos, did you know you live in a biodiversity hotspot? That's right, our city is home to a MASSIVE amount of awesome, and sometimes rare, life. Life that is under threat and needs to be studied.

We here at the Museum have been studying the life in our hotspot for a hundred years. To continue this tradition and to take it to the next level, we are inviting you to join us. Today we are launching a new initiative that will do this, NHM Urban Safari.

We are going to map the wildlife that lives all over our city. From places like Griffith Park and the L.A. River, to your backyards and school yards. To help us do this we have applied for a $100,000 grant through the LA 2050 competition. This is a huge project that involves all of us, and you can start helping today by voting for NHM.

Take a moment to imagine what L.A. could be like in 2050 if everyone in our city helped to study the AMAZING and AWESOME wildlife that lives here! School children...

March 29, 2013

Baby Mantis Explosion

Lately, I've been so busy working on our new Nature Lab exhibit (OPENING THIS JUNE PEOPLE) that I rarely make it into my office anymore. Earlier this week, I popped in to check some e-mails (fun I know) and what do you think I found?

An explosion of praying mantids!

They were on my #2 pencils:

#cute
 
They were on my scissors:

#thisisnotanadvertisement

 They hatched out of this ootheca (nerdy word for egg case):


If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, do not fret! All you need to do, is collect them in a jar and release them into the closest garden!
...

February 23, 2013

Ant Love From an Ant Nerd

A few weeks ago, this ant nerd traveled to the wilds of Arizona to pick up two ant colonies. Yes, myself and Leslie Gordon (the Museum's live animal queen), drove over 1000 miles in under two days to bring a few hundred ants back to the Museum. Why?
 

Our new harvester ants, Pogonomyrmex rugosus,
taking down a wax worm!
 

Well, these ants are for display in the Museum's new Nature Lab exhibit, which is opening this June. That's right, we're going to have a live colony of harvester ants, a.k.a. Pogos (the ultra cool, ant nerd way to refer to this ant genus), inside the Museum!

.

Since the exhibit isn't opening for another four months, we're keeping the ants in our super secret insect quarantine space. Here's a photo...


January 18, 2013

Ladybugs Make Me Smile

A few weeks ago, I was having a terrible day at work. The next day, my friend and colleague, Kristina Lockaby,  brought me a card that said, "Ladybugs make me smile." This is so true.

A recent ladybug that made me smile REALLY big, was one that our Head Gardener, Richard Hayden, found. He was out in the urban wilderness and stopped a moment to take a closer look at one of the willow shrubs. He noticed lots of aphids and a few ladybugs too. One in particular stood out to him. It was all black with two red spots on it, something he had never seen before on a ladybug.

He put the little beetle in a snap top jar and brought it up to our shared office. "Lila, I have a present for you!" he exclaimed as he came in. I immediately stopped staring blankly at my computer screen and turned to see what booty he was bringing in from the garden. He silently handed me the jar, I took a look, and I smiled.

Richard had...


January 4, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas 2012

Since tomorrow is the twelfth day of Christmas, I thought I'd give you your belated gifts. Of course they're all part of L.A.'s surprising biodiversity, yes even those turtle wasps!

Twelve weevils wandering
 


Eleven pepsis wasps piping

 

 


Ten spiders-a-leaping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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