The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.
This description is from Nancy, the museum’s director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center and curator of entomology. She’s chosen a selection of objects that represent the rarest and most interesting insects in the Museum’s collections, that we’ll be sharing here – and on hmns.org – throughout the year.
A local species, this attractive little butterfly only flies for a few weeks in early spring, when the foodplant for its caterpillars (weeds in the mustard family) are abundant. Once the caterpillars pupate they remain in the chrysalis stage until the following spring.
This photo shows what is called “a series” – in insect collection terms, this means a number of individuals of the same species.
Series, especially when they include individuals from different areas and/or collected over a period of time, can provide scientists with important information about the range of variation in a species (in color, size, etc.) as well as its distribution in time and space.
Learn more about butterflies and their relatives in a visit to the new Brown Hall of Entomology, a part of the Cockrell Butterfly Center– a living, walk-through rainforest at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.