University of Minnesota

Ecology Fair University of Minnesota Monarch Lab

Abstracts from St. Hubert School 2006

St. Hubert School
8201 Main St
Chanhassen, MN 55317

Year: 2006
Teacher(s): Cindy Petersen

All You Can Eat (Fresh vs. Frozen)

Maddie Z, Emily S

By Maddie Ziomek and Emily Schubert. In this experiment we took 12, fifth instar monarch caterpillars and placed them in spererate deli containers, with two common milkweed leaves, six fresh and six frozen. Under the leaves we put a damp paper towl. we measured the size of leaves in cm/2, before and after. We did this for two 24 hour periods. The caterpillars eating fresh milkweed at an average of 58 cm/2 ovver a 24 hour period. Our caterpillars eating frozen milkweed ate an average of 54 cm/2. The hypothesis we accepted was that the caterpillars eating fresh would eat more than frozen. There could have been some uncertainties with our experiment such as one caterpillar went into a "J" formation and that could've altered the results. Also there could have been miscalculations with measuring cm/2. That could have created wrong average and information. There may have been a major difference if we had done this throughout heir lives. If we did this experiment again we would probably use more caterpillars. We learned that most monarch caterpillars like freash common milkweed over frozen.

Are Monarchs Ready for Roundup Ready?

Kylie S

            To start my experiment, I got three cages, and labeled them. I took three stems of milkweed and covered one stem of milkweed with Roundup Ready corn pollen, one with regular corn pollen, left one plain, and put one in each cage. I put fifteen larvae into each cage. I wanted to find out if different corn pollens affected the survival rate of monarch larvae. My question is “How do different corn pollens (Roundup Ready, regular corn pollen, and common milkweed) affect the survival rate of monarch larvae?”

            The larvae in the cage with the common milkweed pupated in an average of 10.6 days, the Roundup Ready cage in 9.5 days, and the larvae with no pollen in 10 days. At the end of my experiment, I only had three larvae in the regular corn pollen, three in the common milkweed, and six in the Roundup Ready. The average weight of the Roundup Ready was .52 grams. The average for the regular corn pollen was .49 grams, and the average for the common milkweed was .51 grams. Based on these results I accepted my H¹- Roundup Ready will have the best survival rate.

Color My World!

Haley T, Shea O

            To set up our experiment we took five monarch butterflies, three males and 2two females, and put them into a treatment. Each treatment was set up by wrapping clear saran wrap around one half of the cage and blue, pink, or purple saran wrap around the other half. A light was hung above the cage so it could shine evenly through the two colors. Each color combination was repeated three times. The monarchs were in each treatment for fifteen minutes. After the fifteen minutes, the monarchs were counted according to which color they were in and their gender. Then they were taken out of the treatment and given a five minute break until the trial was repeated. We wanted to find out how light, shining through two different colors of saran wrap (clear and blue, clear and pink, and clear and purple) would affect which color the monarchs were attracted to and what gender was attracted to the colors.

            With fifty-four data entries we were able to conclude that fifty-six percent of the monarch butterflies were attracted to the clear light compared to the forty-four percent attracted to the colored light. Seventy-two percent of the females were in the clear. Sixty percent of the males were in the color. Most females preferred blue after clear and most males preferred pink the most.

            Some uncertainties we had were that the monarchs were getting old toward the end of the experiment and couldn’t fly as well. Another uncertainty we had was that we might not have done enough trials. We also had to get new butterflies later in the experiment because the first ones died of old age.

            We learned that monarch butterflies prefer clear light slightly more then colored light. To explore our experiment further, we would like to try many color combinations such as pink and blue. This experiment shows that butterflies do somewhat prefer clear light as opposed to colored light.   


Michael C


Michael Camp 8B 11/14/06


            To set up my experiment, I took 3 containers and put 4 monarch eggs in each container. Then I put them in the 3 designated temperature environments of 84, 74 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After the first trial, I was given more eggs to do my testing again, which had the same results as the 1st test. I wanted to find out if temperature affected the speed that monarch eggs would hatch.

            My data showed that eggs left in warmer temperatures would hatch faster than eggs in room temperature or fridge temperature. The room temperature eggs hatched slower than the warmer eggs. The eggs in the fridge did nothing at all; I suspect that was because it was too cold. I accepted my hypothesis that the eggs in a warmer environment will hatch the fastest. Almost all of the eggs in the warmer environment seemed to hatch at the same time, while the room temperature eggs had more spacious hatching times.

            Uncertainties I have were that the fridge eggs got no light unless I opened the fridge. The room eggs got even amounts of light while the eggs in the warmer environment got constant light. Also, I may not have checked on the eggs in a constant pattern. Another thing is that I am not completely sure the eggs were all the same ages, so that might have had an effect on their hatching speed. If I could redo my experiment, I would try to find a way to give constant light to the room and fridge temperature eggs. Also, maybe find a cool area for the cold temperature that wasn’t so cold that the eggs would seem to go dormant.

How Long Will They Live? Monarch Eggs and Larvae

Tim G

     In my experiment I placed a set number of Monarch eggs and 1st instar larvae on 5 random milkweed plants in 3 different field areas in a restored meadow for 4 days in August, July, and early September. The areas were the middle of the meadow, hillside, and the pathway. I repeated this for 3 weeks. the first week had a mix of both larvae and eggs. On the pathway there was 2 eggs and larvae. On the hillside and middle meadow there was 2 eggs and 1 larvae. In week 2, there was just 2 larvae on each plant. In week 3 there was just 2 eggs on each plant. Each day I measured the survival of the eggs and larvae, and the predators that were on the plant. I wanted to find out if the location of monarch eggs and larvae (pathway, hillside, middle meadow) had an impact on the survival. If larvae or eggs has a different survival rate. In week 1 the results showed that the Monarch eggs survived better than larvae in pathway, hillside, and in the middle meadow. It also showed that the middle meadow had the highest survival and the hillside had the lowest survival rate. In week 2 and 3 it showed that the eggs again survived better compared to the larvae.  In week 2, working only with larvae, my data showed that the hillside had the highest survival, then during week 3, with only eggs, the results showed that the pathway had the highest survival.Overall the eggs outweighed the larvae un survival by far. Alos, the pathway was the location where eggs and larvae had higher survival.An uncertainty was that i could've missed seein a larvae on a milkweed plant. Or in other words i didn't find it. A thought I have is, do Monarchs lay eggs along the pathway knowing there is a better chance for survival, or is  it because it is more exposed along the pathway? Are there fewer predators along the pathway?

How many bites in night or light?

Sarah M, Maria L

In this experiment we wanted to find out how light and darkness affect how much common milkweed a fifth instar monarch larva eats. We had ten different groups. Each group measured two milkweed leaves and put them in a deli container. On the bottom of the deli container was a moist paper towel. Each group put one fifth instar caterpillar in their deli container. Then the groups were split in half. Five groups put their larva under a lamp and the other half put their caterpillars in a dark cupboard. We measured the amount of square centimeters eaten after 24 hours and after 48 hours.

      After the experiment, we looked at our hypotheses and decided the outcome of the experiment could fall under two categories. The first hypothesis it fell into was the null hypothesis. This hypothesis stated that the same amount of milkweed would be eaten in the dark and light. Our experiment showed these results because the difference between the average amounts eaten was 1 cm2. The second hypothesis it supported was the first alternative hypothesis. This one stated that the larvae would eat more in the light than the dark. This was true for our experiment, though the difference was very small, so it was more likely that our experiment supported the null hypothesis.

      There were a few uncertainties in our experiment. The first major uncertainty was the fact that different people were counting the leaves. Everyone has a different way of counting, so the amount of centimeters may be incorrect. The second uncertainty was the fact that the caterpillars were fifth instars. Some of the caterpillars went into the J stage during the experiment. During this stage they don’t eat, so this altered our experiment. One of the caterpillars in the light group went into the J stage during the experiment, so the average in light was lower than it would have been. In our averages we included that data because it was part of our experiment and we couldn’t just ignore it.

      We concluded from this experiment that caterpillars eat continuously in both day and night.


Milkweed Mania

Kaylee S

To set up my experiment, I started with forty monarch eggs for the first test group and twenty monarch larvae for the second test group. I had four test groups, one for each part of the milkweed (flowers, stems, seedpods, and leaves). Each day I measured the length, width, and length of tentacles of the larvae as well as the survival rate and development.

I chose to do this experiment because I wanted to see if you could feed monarch larvae any other part of the milkweed plant besides the leaves. This information would be useful to anyone raising monarch because they would know that they could feed the larvae the other parts of the milkweed plant instead of throwing them away.

I found that monarch larvae will eat the leaves, seedpods and flowers from milkweed. Most of the monarch larvae do not eat the stems and I think that is because the stems are so tough and hard to chew. I also found that the percentage of survival for the milkweed pods was 60 percent, the percentage for stems was 20 percent, the percentage for leaves was 20 percent, and the percentage for flowers was 80 percent.

Some uncertainties in my Experiment are that they might have been measured inaccurately, especially when they were small. The larvae may also have been affected by some changes in the weather or by disease, but all were raised under the same controlled conditions. Overall, the experiment didn’t come out the way I had planed because I thought that the group that ate only the leaves would do the best, but that wasn’t the case.

Milkweed Mix-Up

Rachel W

My experiment consists of 2 parts. The first part was raising caterpillars on 3 different types of milkweed (Common milkweed, Swamp milkweed, and Butterfly Weed) and documented their growth in millimeters and survival. Each type of milkweed had 2 cages with 5 caterpillars each, with exception of Butterfly Weed, which only had 1 cage. I measured the caterpillars’ length and instars during a 2 week time period. I wanted to find out 2 things, 1- Does the type of milkweed a monarch caterpillar is grown up on affect the growth of it?, and 2- Does the type of milkweed a monarch caterpillar is grown up on affect what the caterpillar chooses when given all the types of milkweed? The results were:

  • Weed cages: 100% survival and the average length of the 5th instars was 31 mm
  • Common cages: 70% survival and the average length of the 5th instars was 39 mm
  • Swamp cages: 100% survival, and the average length of the 5th instars was 34 mm

The 2nd part of my experiment was putting the caterpillars in a tubular contraption with all the types of milkweed and recorded what kind of milkweed they preferred, based on what they grew up on. The results were as follows:

  • Weed cages: cage #1 went to swamp milkweed, and from egg to chrysalis average of 13 days-5 made it out of chrysalis.
  • Common cages: cage#1 went to common milkweed, and cage #2 went to swamp, and from egg to chrysalis average of 13.5 days-6 made it out of chrysalis.
  • Swamp cages: cage #1 went to both common and swamp milkweed, and cage #2 went to swamp milkweed, and from egg to chrysalis average of 14 days- 4 caterpillars made it out of chrysalis.

One uncertainty I had was that all the caterpillars in my 2nd Butterfly Weed cage died the 2nd day from a probable virus. Clearly there are so many monarch caterpillars in every environment, and the types of milkweed are suitable for all!

Monarch Larvae in Eating Action: Common vs. Swamp

Sierra M, Aly H

In our experiment, we had put together one pint sized plastic cage, and one fifth instar caterpillar per group. There were 12 groups, six fed there caterpillars common milkweed and six fed there caterpillars swamp milkweed. We measured the area of the leaves in centemeters squared before putting the milkweed in the cage and measured what was eaten the next day. We reprted this for a second and third day The purpose of the experiment was to find out if a different type of milkweed being fed to a caterpillar would change the amount it ate. How does feeding a fifth instar caterpillar swamp or common milkweed affect the amount it eats? When we averaged out the amount eaten of milkweed. We found that the caterpillars eating common milkweed ate an average of 53.6 cm2, and the average amount of swamp milkweed eaten was 36.4 cm2. This suggests that when monarch caterpillars are exposed to common milkweed, rather than swamp, they will eat more. But there were some bumps in the road. Like one of the problems was that two of the larvae went into their pupa stage. We didn’t use that data in our average because they ate nothing. If we were to do this experiment again, we would do it over a longer period of time to see how big each group of caterpillars got with the different kinds of milkweed.

Monarchs Under the Weather

Maddy S

In my experiment, I had 5 different types of weather conditions (Wind, No Wind, Rain, No Rain, and Natural). For each weather condition I had a separate cage with 7 caterpillars in each except for the Natural cage, which had five. I kept them in the cages for a total of two weeks, fed them fresh milkweed stems, and measured their lengths every other day (I also observed their behaviors). Another is I varied the wind speeds on the wind cage every other day, and gave the rain treatment a ½ inch of water every other day. I wanted to find out how rain, wind, and natural conditions affect the growth and development of monarch caterpillars from 1st instars to adulthood.

My conclusion was that RAIN IS A PROBLEM. More caterpillars died in that cage than any other cage in my experiment. The caterpillars actually thrived in the wind cage (they grew the biggest). I thought that more would thrive in the no wind cage but, to my amazement, they also ended up like the rain cage. I would have never expected that wind would have such a big affect on caterpillars. The survival rate for each cage are as follows: Wind-85.7%, No Wind-42.9%, Rain-28.6%, No Rain-85.7%, and Natural-60%. As for size comparison, the caterpillars in the Wind treatment were quite a bit larger than the Rain cage and topped off at about 3 cm. Some patterns I saw were that, the lengths of the caterpillars in cages outside, kept a steady and slow rate of growth, so they could go 4 days withought growing a millimeter.

Some uncertainties in my experiment were, outside, the constant wind one time blew over an entire cage, even though I had a sand-dish in it. In the rain cage, it sometimes went a little over the mark of ½ an inch and sometimes it rained naturally on the rain cage. In the No wind cage, I noticed from about the second day that the plant was wilting. So, I changed the plant, but that didn’t work. So, I finally figured out that it didn’t have enough sunlight, so the caterpillars didn’t get much good food in that cage for the first couple days. I think that my sample size was definitely large enough to see a pattern. I learned that mortality might be very high during a rainy spell or wet year. If I were to continue this experiment, I would put more detail into my observations to really understand why the caterpillars react like they do.

Munching Monarchs!

Erin S

In my experiment I wanted to find out how the way milkweed was kept would affect the growth and development of monarch caterpillars. My question was: "How does the type of milkweed (fresh, frozen, or refrigerated) affect the growth and development of monarch caterpillars?" To set up my experiment, I put 27 (2nd instar) monarch catepillars in three seperate cages (9 caterpillars per cage). I labeled each cage, Fresh, Frozen, or Refrigerated and put several corresponding leaves in each. Every other day, I randomly selected five caterpillars per cage and measured their instar, length, and width (in cm). I recorded the data and gave them their correct leaves. I did this until they died or went into a chrysalis. My data showed that with the frozen milkweed, there was a 0% survival rate. The last caterpillar survived for 20 days. The average length on the last day of survival was 2 cm. With the fresh milkweed, there was also a 0% survival rate. The last caterpillar survived for 10 days. The average length on the last day of survival was .7 cm. With the refrigerated milkweed, the survival rate was 45%. The last caterpillars survived for 22 days (and went into chrysalises). The average length on the last day of survival (before going into chrysalises) was 3.3 cm. I accepted my H2 hypothesis which stated: "The monarch caterpillars will grow the longest and develop the fastest eating refrigerated milkweed." I believe this is because the refrigerated milkweed had the most moisture. The fresh milkweed was also picked later in the season, so it probably was a lower quality. I learned that following the scientific method is extremely important to having a succssful experiment.

Nifty Nectar

Kristin S, Carly G

“Nifty Nectar”


Our question for our experiment is “How does different color combinations (white- yellow, white-purple, and purple-yellow) affect the number of visits a monarch has to a certain flower?” We began the experiment by choosing flowers that monarchs typically nectar on in the field or in our garden. We put together three 24-inch net cages and placed them under heat lamps. Next we placed two water bottles containing the different combinations of flowers in each cage. For example: One bottle with white and the other with yellow. We then picked randomly three male or female monarchs and placed them in the cage. We watched and observed them every half and hour for a three hour period and recorded when they landed on a flower to nectar. We did three trials (3 hours each) for each flower combination. There were two different sets of purple, yellow, and white flowers, so all together 27 hours spent per each set of purple, yellow and white flowers.

            We found out that the monarch butterflies preferred the purple flowers with 37 total visits altogether with both flower sets, then closely behind in second place with 33 altogether was yellow. Then a long ways behind with 19 was white in last place. We accepted the first and second hypotheses stating that the purple and yellow flowers would be visited the most by the monarchs.

            Even though the data pointed to purple and yellow being the most preferred, the butterflies could also nectar on a flower with more nectar available. Therefore the purple and yellow flowers could’ve contained more nectar then white flowers. But because of our many trials and the fact that the different types of purple, yellow, and white flowers were used, we are confident in our results for this experiment.


By: Carly Gerads and Kristin Stock

Round 'Em Up

Ashley F

To set up my experiment, I took 8 containers, two for each spray treatment and my control, and I put 5 monarch larvae ineach. I wanted to find out how the type of milkweed ( sprayed with Round-up 1 week before feeding it to the larvae, 2 days before feeding it to the larvae, sprayed last year by the Minnesota Arboretum's Spring Peeper Meadow facility and fresh milkweed that hadn't been sprayed ) affeccgt the growth and survival of a monarch larvae. What I found out wa that the larvae on the fresh milkweed survived and grew the longest and 4 out of 10 became butterflies. Larvae on the milkweed sprayed one week before feeding all stayed alive for a few days, but then they started to die. They also were only about half the size fo the larvae on the fresh milkweed after about 1 1/2 weeks. The same thing happened with the larvae on the milkweed sprayed 2 days before feeding. They were very small and eventually died, none even making a chrysalis. But the same thing didn't happen for the larvae sprayed by the Arboretum. These larvae grew a fair amont and in the end, 4 out of 10 larvae bacame butterflies. This shows me that milkweed spraye over a years period doesn't affect monarch growth and survival in a negative way. I was a little uncertain because one cage of larvae eating milkweed sprayed 1 week before hatching, they all died because of a viral disease. This gave me a smaller sample to look at. But even though these larvae died, I was still able to collect data. All in all, Round-up has its effect on larvae, both positive and negative.

Survivor; Monarch Edition

Teddy S, Connor O, Edward M

To set up this experiment, we had everyone in our grade (72 kids) that raised monarchs complete a survey asking them how many survived through different stages of metamorphosis. We wanted to know what the survival rate would be of monarch caterpillars from 1st instars to adults for the 72, 7th grade students at St. Huberts School? Our results showed that after raising monarch larvae, about 43 percent of them made it to adulthood. Also, 53 percent made it to the 5th instars. Out of the 199 that made it to butterflies, 102 were males and 97 were females. The longer they were alive the fewer survived. That might’ve happened because of a virus that once in a cage seemed to kill everything, or the lack of good milkweed. Also the different environments could have affected it. Almost every chrysalis that there was made it to adulthood. Our uncertainties included the different ways they were raised and the different environments. We accepted hypothesis four which says that 25 % to 49% of the caterpillars will survive to adulthood. 95% of everyone who raised caterpillars lost one. We learned that raising Monarchs in the fall is difficult because of the lack of quality milkweed/cold weather and the viruses or bacteria that seem to be present.

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