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Ecology Fair University of Minnesota Monarch Lab

Abstracts from Cloquet Middle School 2003

Cloquet Middle School
509 Carlton Ave
Cloquet, MN 55720

Year: 2003
Teacher(s): Cindy Edwardson, Cynthia Welsh

Can Gender Affect the Intelligence of Butterflies?

Angel C, Sarah M

The problem we investigated was can gender affect the intelligence of butterflies?   We thought female butterflies would be more intelligent than males because this can be true in some case with human females at our grade level.  We took a plastic cage and made a cardboard separator with a hole in the middle-bottom of it.  We soaked a sponge in apple juice placing it on one side of the cage and dropped a butterfly in the other side.  We timed how long it took the butterfly to get to the food.  Two females and one male got to the food in less than 40 seconds, while two males and one female took longer, 100 seconds.  We arent sure if gender really affects their intelligence.  Some butterflies may have been hungrier than others and our sample size may have been too small.  It was fun learning how to care for butterflies.


Do Spices Added to Nectar Affect the Feeding Preference?

Jess V

In this experiment, we were trying to find out if monarch butterflies liked spices added to nectar.  We tried two spices, pumpkin and cinnamon, added to separate Berry Juicy Juice samples and left one sample without a spice.  Six butterflies were given the chance to try each flavor added to a sponge.  We noted the gender of the butterfly, and timed how long the proboscis was on the sponge for each sample.  We found out that both male and female butterflies prefer plain Juicy Juice.  We ran the experiment only once with a small sample size, so we may not have had accurate results.  We learned   some butterflies are more daring, like humans, and will try something new and different, while others are pickier and wont try new things.


Does a Dirty Cage Affect the Growth of a Fourth Instar?

Kendra M

In this experiment, I tested if a dirty cage would affect the growth of a fourth instar monarch larva.  I used six fourth instar larvae with three per cage.  I cleaned out one cage daily, and left the old frass in the other.  I fed them new milkweed daily and continued the experiment for five days.  The larvae in the dirty cage grew an average of 11.6 mm, while in the dirty cage they grew an average of 2.3 mm with one turning black.  My sample size may have been too small for accuracy and the black larvae may have had a disease which wasnt the fault of the experimental procedures.  I learned monarch larvae may grow more quickly in clean cages and it is important to control all variables accept the one you are testing.


Does Food Color Added to the Chrysalis Affect the Color of the Monarch Butterfly?

Angel K, Shaina V

We wanted to try to change the color of three butterflies by changing the color of the chrysalis.  We put four drops of blue food coloring on each chrysalis and thought the butterflies would emerge with a faint blue tint.  None of three butterflies turned any shade of blue.  We were uncertain if the food coloring would harm the butterflies but none of them died.  We would use more food coloring next time and perhaps try a brighter color.  We learned how to analyze and record data properly.


How Do Bugs, Added to a Cage, Affect the Behavior of Monarch Butterflies?

Sam E

In this experiment, I tried to control all variables except I added a walking stick, a cricket, and a mealworm, one at a time to a cage testing four butterflies, two of each gender.  I observed each butterfly's reaction to each of the three bug types for five minutes at a time. There were a few interesting reactions, such as quivering wings, waving heads, climbing walls, and most interesting of all, a female butterfly sat on a mealworm.  I don't know if their behavior was affected by being born in captivity, and if they would be comfortable with these same bugs in a cage with them all night.  I learned that monarch butterflies react to stimuli and it may not be gender specific.


How Do Different Insects Affect a Monarch Butterfly's Eating Habits, Life Span, or Overall Way of Life?

Eddie J

In this experiment, I had three cages.  I had one with crickets and monarchs, one with walking sticks and monarchs, and one with just monarchs.  I then scientifically measured them and noted their reaction to each other.  I did this to see how these unique insects react to each other in the wild.  I saw that the walking sticks had little to no affect on the monarchs, whereas the crickets showed a different trend in the length and mass records.  Some of the crickets escaped which may have affected my experiment.  I learned that walking sticks had no real affect on monarchs, where crickets did.


How Does Gender Affect the Eating Habits and Growth of  Monarchs When They Are in the Same Environment or Not in the Same Environment?

Elora M, Brooke D

The purpose was to determine the best gender arrangement while raising monarch butterflies.  Monarchs in a cage with both male and female butterflies ate the most butterfly juice per day and gained the greatest average mass.  The cages with two females ate the least amount.  The cage with two males lost the most mass with an average loss of 0.14 grams.  Its unsure how much the monarchs were being handled by other classmates and how much this affected them.  We learned that the monarchs feel more comfortable being together in the same cage because they ate and grew the most.  We also learned that if scientists want to raise monarchs it is best to keep males and females together.


How Does Gender Affect the Size of the Wings and Antennae, and the Mass of a Male/Female Monarch?

Anne W, DelRae T

We measured an equal amount of male and female butterflies.  We measured their wingspan, their antennae, and their mass after they emerged out of their chrysalis.  We did this because we wanted to get some results from when they emerged.  We found out that the males had larger wings, antennae, and a greater mass then the females.  We were surprised with our cage experiment because when they all emerged they were all females, so we could not use them in our experiment because we were hoping for half-and-half.  We just used our information that we found out earlier.  We found out unexpectedly in our experiment that males grow, and eat more when they are around females and vise versa.  We also found out that they liked eating from a pink sponge the most.


How Does Mass and Length of a Monarch Butterfly Affect Mortality?

Crystal J

Everyday the mass and length of the larvae and the butterflies were recorded.  The purpose of doing this was to find out what mass and length of monarch larvae and butterflies is necessary to live.  The mass necessary for the larvae and butterfly to live safely is 1.32 grams. The mass of the larvae that died is 1.08 and of the butterfly that died is 1.21 grams.  Then the length for the larvae and the butterfly to live healthy is 43.78 grams.  Then the length of the larvae that died is 40.47grams, and the length of the butterfly that died is 57 millimeters long.   I learned that the larvae and butterflies that lived were the same in length and mass.


How Does the Color of the Sponge (Flower) Affect the Adult Monarch Butterfly's Growth and Eating Habits?

Angela R, Natanya J

To begin the experiment, three different colored sponges and three monarch butterflies were placed in a cage.  Three cages were assembled. Three different colored sponges were filled with juice everyday.  Each day butterfly and sponge mass change was measured.  We wanted to find out which color sponge (flower) the butterflies seemed attracted to.  The pink sponge lost the most mass per day next was yellow then purple.  We tried to make sure all the sponges were cut exactly the same and that we put the same amount of juice in them, but there couldve been variations.  We learned that monarchs like brighter colored sponges (flowers).  We also learned that the male monarch wingspan and mass is longer than the female monarch by 2 cm.


How Does the Monarch Butterfly React to Different Smells and Food?

Katrina K

Monarchs in three different cages were given either a honey solution or a 100% juice solution.  Timing started as soon as the monarch was placed on a sponge filled with food.  It was noted when their tentacles went down and how long each butterfly stayed and ate.  Also, a cage of new butterflies was compared to butterflies three weeks old.  The cage with the new butterflies only had one butterfly eat, but the cages with 3-week-old butterflies all ate.  This experiment taught me that when monarch butterflies eat their tentacles go down and their proboscis probes the sponge for food.  Also, that butterflies will eat both juice and honey.


Monarchs' Ability to Learn

Sadie L, Nathan B

In this experiment, we were testing if monarch larvae could remember and learn to travel through an obstacle course with milkweed as a reward. One small shoebox, popsicle sticks, and two monarch larvae were used in the test.   One monarch went the 20 cm distance in five minutes but in the second trial, went only 10 cm. The other larva went 16 cm and then 4 cm.  We thought the larvae would make it through faster the second time which did not happen.  Therefore we concluded that the monarch larvae did not remember and learn in this instance.  We would test more larvae, more times, if we were to do this experiment over again.


Temperature Preference of Larvae

Hannah R

In this experiment, we wanted to find out if monarch larvae have a temperature they prefer.  We used three larvae and placed a heating pad on one side of a cage, nothing in the middle, and put an ice pack on the left side of the cage.  We placed two one by one centimeter squares of milkweed on each side and waited thirty minutes before we counted the larvae in each environment.  We repeated this eleven more times.  The larvae preferred the warm, middle area, to either the cold or hot sides which is what we hypothesized.  We learned to control everything except the variable and that the more larvae you use, the more reliable are your results.


What Flavor, Added to Milkweed, Do Larvae Prefer?

Lisa Marie N

My partner and I experimented with flavor preference of larvae.  We tried adding honey (sweet), salt (salty), pepper (spicy), separately mixed in water, and brushed on separate milkweed leaves.  We punched forty holes out of each flavored milkweed leaf, and one plain leaf, and added these to a large pickle jar.  Three larvae were given a day to eat after which we counted how many flavor punches the larvae ate.  The average number of punches of each flavor eaten were 34 no flavor added, 6.5 pepper, 17 salt, and 15 sweet.  The data may be inaccurate because the larvae spread the milkweed around a bit which may have mixed some flavors.  We learned that we should have tried each flavor punch separately and that larvae may try new things, like humans, but will go back to the traditional flavor.


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