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Ecology Fair University of Minnesota Monarch Lab

Abstracts from St. Hubert School 2000

St. Hubert School
8201 Main St
Chanhassen, MN 55317

Year: 2000
Teacher(s): Cindy Petersen

Chrysalides Hanging Around

Samantha S, Emily A

We took six empty Monarch Butterfly chrysalides on wood and six on plastic.  We tied a string on the cremaster of each one.  Then, we tied a small plastic bag onto the string.  We dropped pennies into the bag, until it fell.  After that, we weighed the string and the bag with the pennies in it. We wanted to find out:  How much weight a chrysalis holds on wood and plastic surfaces?  The average amount of weight the chrysalides on wood held was 159.895 grams.  The average amount of weight the chrysalides on plastic held, was 73.03 grams.  We were unsure about the accuracy of our weighing and if we pulled the bags down with our hands.  We learned that a chrysalis is very strong and has to be to survive in nature.


Larvae Wheel Extravaganza

Sara E

Our group made color and texture wheels for the larvae to travel on. The colors were: yellow, green, red, orange, white, blue, and a black center. The texture wheel had grass, aluminum foil, carpet, plastic, sandpaper, cardboard and a black center. Each color or texture was numbered 1-6. We rolled a dice to determine which way the larvae would face. The larvae started in the center black circle and was placed toward the number on the dice. After two minutes, we recorded the color or texture it was on. There were eight larvae and seven trials. The purpose of our experiment was to determine which colors and textures monarch larva prefer. Our results showed that the larvae preferred brighter colors and more textured materials. The top two colors were: yellow with 27 times and green with 10 times. The top two textures were: sandpaper with 19 times and grass with 18 times. Two uncertainties in our experiment were: sometimes we didnt end up having the same larvae as the trial before and that the larvae would be half on one color or texture and half on another. Two new things I learned were that larvae prefer brighter colors and rougher textures.


Milkweed Chase

Emily G, Molly N

Our purpose was to see how far a monarch larva would travel to get the milkweed leaves at the end of the racetrack. Our group made a 142 cm long racetrack. It was divided into three lanes. We numbered the lanes 1-3. In Lane 1 we put small pieces of milkweed leading from start to finish. Lane 2 we left plain. In Lane 3 we rubbed the scent of the milkweed leaf on the lane leading from the start to the finish. We put one monarch larva in each lane for 25 minutes. We observed what they did and how far they got. We concluded that the average distance traveled in Lane 1 was 55 cm. In Lane 2 the average distance was 58.75 cm, and in Lane 3 with a high average of 89 cm. We found out monarch larvae could sense the scent of milkweed. With this we concluded that Lane 3 was the best with an average finishing time of fifteen minutes forty-four seconds, and an average distance of 89 cm. An uncertainty for our group was that we should have done more trials so we would have had more data. Another was that we should have had two larvae going at a time, but we were limited on supplies. We learned that monarch larvae can sense the scent of milkweed from 142 cm distance or more. We concluded this because all the lanes got to the end at least once. We also found out that scent is one of the most important senses of a monarch larvae because of its lack of sight.


Milkweed Mystery:  Common vs. Swamp

Drew S, Ryan S

The purpose of our experiment or project was to determine how the type of milkweed, common or swamp, affect the life of a monarch larva. We put five larva into two different cages.  One cage was filled with common milkweed and the other swamp milkweed.  We would then weigh and measure the larva at the end of each day.  As soon as the plants were completely eaten, we would fill the cage with new milkweed, the same kind that was in that cage. We would repeat this process until the larvae were in chrysalides.  After that, we would measure and weigh the adults that had emerged from the chrysalides with a millimeter ruler and an electronic gram scale.  We would measure each wing of the adult with a ruler in millimeters. We found that common milkweed produced bigger and longer larva and that common milkweed produces bigger and longer adults. We were uncertain about how much some of the larva actually ate because there were so many in both cages.  Also, we were uncertain if the transition from Ryans house to Drews house hampered their behavior. We learned that a different kind of milkweed can affect the growth of monarch larva and its adults that emerge.


Monarch Nectaring

Laura N

For our experiment we took ten monarch butterflies, (five male and five female) and fed them a different nectar, (Juicy Juice, honey water, sugar water, Kool-Aid or Hi-C, pink lemonade), each day. We weighed them before and after to see their weight gain. We also observed their behavior for two minutes each day. We wanted to find out what type of nectar an adult monarch butterfly would prefer and how did that nectar affect their behavior. The most surprising thing we found was that the monarchs gained more weight when they ate the sugary liquids, but didnt have to stay on as long. We were unsure if the temperature in the room was always the same and if that affected how much and how fast the butterflies ate. Maybe the different colors of the liquids influenced the selection of the monarchs. A few times the butterflies didnt want to eat and just flew around. All and all, the experiment was a success and provided us with lots of valuable information.


Monarch Populations at Two Prairie Sites

Matt A, Jackson A, Joe W

The purpose of our experiment was to find out how the monarch population varied between Spring Peeper Meadows (new site) and the Arboretum (old site).  To do this, our team went to the sites every other week and observed several milkweed plants.  We recorded the state of the plant, the other organisms on it, and how many monarch larvae/eggs were on them.  We did this for about three months.  There was a noticeable difference in the number of eggs at each site.  Spring Peeper had more eggs, especially during the early weeks.  There was not a big difference in the larvae population.  Both had very few.  However, we saw more adults at the Arboretum.  One thing that we are uncertain of right now is the number of plants at each site.  There was a difference, so we cant do percentages using a computer.  We learned that, at least in this case, more eggs are being laid at newer sites.


Patterns in Monarch Migration

Emily C, Whitney H

We released four batches of twenty monarchs over a period of three months that we raised from eggs in natural conditions.  We recorded the direction they flew in and their behavior before and during take-off.  In our experiment, we wanted to find out how seasonal changes affect the direction of monarch migration. We found out that there are migration patterns over a period of time and monarchs travel in a more southerly direction over time.  In addition, we found out which gender, size and weight of monarchs tended to fly south. We knew that monarchs migrated south, but we learned what period of time they migrate and which ones migrate first.


Puzzled About Pupation?

Sally A, Micaela H

We took plastic, sand paper, masking tape, construction paper, tin foil, glass and screen and taped them to the cover of a glass cage, which we placed fifteen monarch larvae in. Then we recorded how many larvae pupated on each texture. We wanted to learn how textures effect where monarch larvae pupate. We found that three larvae pupated on the side of the top and another on plastic died half way through making its chrysalis. Two results we were unsure about was the one that died half way through its chrysalis and if the size of the textures were equal. Some things we learned are that most monarch larvae like to pupate on plastic, sand paper and masking tape, which are all somewhat rough surfaces.  Also, they like to pupate close to each other.


Silent Killer

Jill C

My experiment is a two part experiment. For the most part I used adult monarchs and split them up into four cages with nine monarchs in each. I put insecticide Malathion on to the golden rod which was fed to them over a two week period. I had a control cage, a full cage with the recommended amount noted on the bottle. The other two cages had 1/2 of the amount and 1/4. I then watched and recorded how the monarchs reacted to the insecticide. I followed the same procedure for the second part of the experiment but instead I used larval monarchs for the testing and common milkweed for the food. I put 12 larvae in each cage for this part. The purpose of my experiment was, how does Malathion effect monarch in stages of their larval and adult life? My findings of this experiment were very close to my hypothesis.  I found that for the adults the Malathion killed them in any strength but how fast they died was different.  In the full cage, 100% died within a four day stretch. The 1/2 cage was the same but all the monarchs died in six days.  For the 1/4 cage, 81% of the monarchs died over the two weeks the experiment went on.  The results for the larva were similar to the adults.  In the full cage, all of the larvae died in two and 1/2 days.  It was exactly the same for the 1/2, too.  In the 1/4 cage, three larvae survived, but, they were fifth instars and went into their chrysalis right away. A big thing that made my experiment hard was at the very beginning many of my adult monarchs were killed on behalf of a strong wind. Also, some tactics I used to spray the Malathion on the food might not have been the best. Over this experiment, I learned that you need to be very careful when setting up an experiment.  Also, recording daily is very important because changes can happen rapidly. Overall I enjoyed this learning experience.


What's My Age Again?

Ali M, Renee K

Have you ever wondered how long monarch butterflies live? We observed 14 eggs and larva throughout all their stages of metamorphosis during a one-month period of time. We wanted to find out how long each stage of the monarch lasted until the day of the emerged butterfly. We found out that the egg lasted 4 days, the first instar lasted two days, and the second instar lasted five days. The third and fourth instars both lasted three days and the fifth instar lasted four days. So, the larval stages lasted a total of seventeen days. The J stage, the stage before the chrysalis, only lasted 1.5 days. Finally, the chrysalis lasted 17.5 days. When we took the cage home over the weekends, the milkweed amount could have been different. The eggs were also laid within a two-day period. Those could have affected our outcome of the experiment. We learned two very important facts. One fact was that monarch larva don't only eat their own eggshell when born, but in fact, they eat the whole egg of another, larva and all! The other thing we learned was that the larva doesn't stay in the J stage very long at all. This experiment helped us learn how important monarchs really are.


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