University of Minnesota

Ecology Fair University of Minnesota Monarch Lab

Abstracts from Cloquet Middle School 2005

Cloquet Middle School
509 Carlton Ave
Cloquet, MN 55720

Year: 2005
Teacher(s): Cindy Edwardson, Cynthia Welsh

Does a Maze Pattern Affect The Memory of a Cockroach?

Trevor N, Sara B

In this experiment we timed how long it took for three cockroaches to go through a maze. We had one female and two male cockroaches go through the same maze four times each. We wanted to know if a cockroach can learn a maze pattern.  Overall, the cockroaches time to navigate the maze decreased with each trial.  It appears that cockroaches can learn to move through a maze more quickly with practice.  The female travelled more slowly through the maze than the males.  Next time we would make the maze walls higher so the cockroaches can't climb out of  the maze.

Does gender affect the territorial behavior of crawfish?

Pallin L

 Crawfish are fresh water crustations; they live in rivers and ponds. Crawfish like to eat a variety of foods, such as elodea, raw meat, worms, fish food, and some other water plants. The question is does gender affect the territorial behavior of crawfish? The hypothesis is that males will be more territorial because of their increased body and claw size. To do this I will get two 1.5' x 2.5' containers fill them with two inches of water and put enough gravel to cover the bottom of the container. I will then cut out six houses for them out of butter containers. Then at the end of each day I will record what gender is in the house. I will do that for one month. The results are that males tend to be in the containers 33% more of the time then females. Next time I would like to investigate crayfish behavior in their natural habitat.

Does the Wing Size, Weight, and Gender Affect the Flight Speed of the Monarch Butterfly?

Desirae G

In this experiment, I measured the forewings of  monarch butterflies, weighed them, and tested which gender flew faster.  I wanted to determine if wing size, weight, and gender affected flight speed.  I found out that on average, five males weighed less, had shorter forewings, and flew faster than five females.  There were many variables that were not perfectly controlled such as time of day, length of time the butterfly was held before release, age of butterfly, and some were tagged.  It was also impossible to make them all fly straight to the window.  We should have used more than 10 butterflies and repeated our trials several more times.  I learned that the butterflies have scales that come off with repeated handling.  I noticed that the smaller winged females were heavier than the larger females.

How Does Different Kinds of Music Affect the Monarch Butterflies Activity?

Marissa C

In my experiment I tested how three monarch butterflies reacted to rap and country music.  I wanted to see if the butterflies were calmer with country music and more active when rap music was played.  I found that they were much more active with rap music and  less active with country music.  I should have used a larger sample size and observed the butterflies more often and for a longer period of time.  I noticed that the scales on the wings wear away easily and that monarchs seem to act scared of rap music. 

How Does Red Dye Added to Lettuce Affect the Color of Walking Sticks?

Brittney G, Mariah S

In this experiment we collected six medium sized walking sticks, put three in a cage with normal colored romaine lettuce, and three in a cage with romaine lettuce dyed red.  We wanted to see if red dye added to the lettuce would affect the color of the walking sticks or their frass.  After about two weeks, the walking sticks, the ends of their abdomens, and some of their frass, appeared to change to a red color in the cage with the red lettuce.  Since walking sticks can change colors anyway, we're not sure if the red dye caused all of the  color change that we observed. The walking sticks in the cage with the nondyed lettuce did not appear to change to a red color.  We could have chosen a larger sample size and repeated the experiment for accuracy.  We learned that walking stick poop is called frass and that having an experimental control is very important.

How Does Temperature Affect a Monarch Butterfly's Activity Level?

Dylan C

In our experiment we used a heating pad to raise the air temperature of one cage containing monarch butterflies.  We compared the activity level of butterflies in the warm cage to those caged in a cooler temperature.  The butterflies in the heated cage appeared to fly faster but in a more confused pattern than those in a cooler cage.  We should have increased our sample size and number of observation trials.  We learned that butterflies can lose scales and that males have two dots on their hindwings.

How does the water quality of the Rocky Run stream affect macroinvertebrate diversity?

Marissa N

Healthy streams help produce a large diversity of macroinvertebrates. How does the water quality of the Rocky Run stream affect macroinvertebrate diversity? The hypothesis is that if a stream’s water quality is diminished then the macroinvertebrate diversity will be diminished as well. From three riffles on the Rocky Run kick net samples were collected. Hilsenhof’s biotic index was used to determine the organic pollution level of the stream. The amount and number of macroinvertebrates were tallied and compared to the streams pollution level. The water quality of the Rocky Run was good and there was a diversity of different macroinvertebrates found. Next time a comparison of a stream riffle vs. a run will compare habitat and diversity of macroinvertebrates.

What affect does the presence of a beaver dam, on the White Pine River, have on macroinvertebrate diversity—open canopy vs. closed canopy?

Gleason S

The White Pine River is a first order trout stream in Cloquet, Minnesota. Streams in northern Minnesota run through forests and open fields. Beavers often build dams on streams causing a decrease in water discharge. Macroinvertebrates live on the bottom of a stream and can be affected by water flow changes. The question is does the presence of a beaver dam, on the White Pine River, have on macroinvertebrate diversity when in an pen canopy vs. closed canopy? The hypothesis is that canopy cover and the presence of a beaver dam will affect macroinvertebrate density and the health of a stream. The closed stream canopy had larger macroinvertebrates with a higher number of stone fly predators. The open canopy blocked by the beaver dam had smaller macroinvertebrates with an incrased number of dendrital and algal feeders. The beaver dam slowed down the water and allowed the accumulation of decomposed organic material, promoting bottom-feeding bugs. The open canopy allows for more sunlight and an increase in algal feeding macroinvertebrates. Next time, I would like to investigate the affect of ground water on stream health and macroinvertebrate density.    

What color of flowers do monarch butterflies prefer?

Odegaard C

 Many people enjoy planting butterfly gardens. Know the color of flowers to plant is important. The question is what color of flowers should be planted in a butterfly garden. If you plant a garden of flowers for monarch butterflies they will probably prefer a certain color of flower.  Each day the same amount of food will be placed in a sponge. There will be sponges that are colored purple, yellow and blue. The mass of the sponges will be measured each day to determine which color the monarch butterflies ate from. Three butterflies will be placed in two cages. Next time the type of juice the monarchs prefer will be investigated.

What type of food do Crayfish prefer in their fresh water habitat?

Brooke E

Crayfish are an important part of our fresh water ecosystem. Determining the types of food crayfish prefer will help scientists understand if a certain stream or lake is producing food crayfish will need to survive. The question is what kind of food would a crayfish prefer in their freshwater habitat? The hypothesis is that crayfish will prefer live animals  (worms) to a plant called elodea and store bought fish food. From a container of ten crayfish, I took two crayfish and put them into smaller containers. Each day I placed two different crayfish, elodea, fish food and a live worm into each tank and recorded the order the crayfish ate the food provided. The original hypothesis is supported crayfish preferred the live animal food over the store bought food or the elodea. Next time, more types of food will be used along with two crayfish in the same tank and see if proximity affects eating habits. 

What Type of Material Does the Monarch Larva Prefer to Make Its "J" Stage On?

Kalie S, Ashley C

In our experiment we put wood, felt, sandpaper, and screen material at the top of a cage and added eight 5th instar larvae to the cage.  We wanted to see what material monarch larvae would prefer to make their "J"stage on.  Four out of eight larvae made their "J" on the sandpaper.  One made it on the cage screen door, fell off, and went into the chrysalis on a milkweed leaf.  We think three larvae escaped.  Two things we learned were that monarch larvae like to make their "J" on rough surfaces.  We should also build a more secure cage.

Will Gender of Monarch Butterflies Affect Preference For Artificial Flowers, Incense, or Juice?

Shawn T

In this experiment, we placed artificial flowers, incense, and juice on a sponge in the same cage and watched to see what the monarch butterflies went to more often by gender.  We found that females preferred the artificial flowers while males went to the sponge more often.  One male was crippled and one female was discovered to be a male.  We should have had a larger sample size and more observation trials.  We discovered that butterflies are more active in the sun than in the shade which may affect their appetite.

Will monarch larvae in a more open environment grow faster than ones in a closed environment?

Kelly A

People have loved to watch monarchs in the spring and summer. Monarchs have lived on Earth for 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 years. The scientific name for the monarch butterfly is Danaus plexippus. The monarch butterfly also has a nickname—the milkweed butterfly. The butterflies were given this name because when in their larval stage they only eat milkweed. They also only lay their eggs, as an adult, on milkweed. The question is



will monarch larvae, in a cage with fewer holes and a higher cage temperature, grow faster than a cage with many holes and a lower temperature. The hypothesis is that the cage with fewer holes will have a higher average temperature and the larvae will grow faster. Two set up t he experiment two cages of the same size with the same size holes on top had two monarch larvae placed in each along with a thermometer. One cage had  three holes with screen placed in each hole. Milkweed was placed in each cage each day for larval food and the cage was also cleaned of frass. Each day larvae in length and weight (cm) was measured. My hypothesis was not supported the cage with more holes and a lower average temperature had the greatest larval growth in length and mass over a three week period.  Possibly the larvae in the cage without holes felt safer in the cage and allowed themselves to eat freely of the milkweed provided

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