Monarchs in Space

Written by Jared-

Today, we watched a video about the Monarchs In Space program. We learned why the program happened and the history of Monarch Watch. Dr. Chip Taylor explained why the program is working with NASA and what they hope to learn from the experiment.  We also watched a recording of the second monarch emerging from the chrysalis in space!  It was funny to watch it bouncing around the chamber because of the microgravity.

We also learned about Miss Mulhern’s trip  Mexico in February ’08.  We are almost done looking at her pictures and slideshow.  Then we will learn more about the places she visited in MesoAmerica.

Emergence Caught on Video!

WOW!  The ISS managed to catch one of the emergences on video!  Check out the clip below…it is breathtaking.  I’ve watched hundreds of monarch butterflies emerge but it always stops me in my tracks.  Seeing it done in space is even more amazing.

(Monarch Watch doesn’t allow embedding…so you will have to click on the link!)

Also, the final ISS monarch has emerged.  It appears that although it was able to emerge from the pupal case, it was not able to pump its wings up as the other two monarchs did. This was the chrysalis that was knocked loose by the previously emerged monarchs. We can’t wait to see what Monarch Watch has to say about this!


Monarch Predators

Written by Kylea-

Today we learned about the predators of monarchs, Their predators (in Mexico)are  the black eared mice, the blacked back oriele, and the grosbeak.  They can eat the monarchs because they adapted to their poisons.

We also learned that the male monarch is not as poisonous as the female.  We decided that nature forced this adaptation because the females need to be protected in order to lay eggs and keep the species going.  The boys in class were not happy about this!

Finally, the monarchs in space are supposed to emerge at the end of this week.  Two of the chrysalids are floating so it will be a challenge for the monarchs to emerge.  We are going to vote tomorrow and see if our class thinks they will emerge ok or not.

Found: One Lost Caterpillar

Miss Mulhern-

We found the missing caterpillar!  David was looking around the room and discovered him hanging from the windowsill.  He was also dead.  He looked exactly like the dead caterpillar in our space container.  Both caterpillars were still in their caterpillar skin.  They had split the skin but it only split halfway down the body.  We removed the caterpillar from the windowsill and disposed of him.

David hypothesized that the escaped caterpillar died because he tried to pupate only a few inches above the radiator.  We learned in class that monarch butterflies can die if they reach a body temperature that is too high.  Perhaps this is true for caterpillars, too.

We are sad that we lost so many caterpillars-  83% of them!  Miss Mulhern has never had a mortality rate like that when dealing with caterpillars from the wild.

We Have Pupation!

Written by Nikki (and Miss Mulhern)-

Today we found out that one caterpillar is missing and one is dead. That leaves us with only one left. The one that is left is in a perfect chrysalis.  It should emerge next week.  The dead one was half in a chrysalis.  It was not able to pupate correctly

Today in class we talked about why our caterpillars died.  Most of my classmates think it is related to the artificial diet.  Miss Mulhern told us that we could survive on a diet of saltines but we would not be very healthy.  We hypothesized that the artificial diet is not as healthy as the pure milkweed that Miss Mulhern normally uses.  Miss Mulhern talked to one of her colleagues in Rumson who is also participating in the project and they have had a high mortality rate, too.

Some of my classmates also hypothesized that the classroom temperature and humidity might be related to the mortality rate.  The only perfect chrysalis is in the most humid container- the sushi container!