Friday, October 10, 2014

Monarch Butterflies

By: Abigail Boudreau
This year the fifth grade took care of Monarch butterflies.  They came to us as caterpillars, which is the larva stage.  Mrs. Ludington put the larva in jars with netting over the top.  We worked in pairs.  Each pair was assigned two or three caterpillars in a jar to take care of.  Each day we started off by cleaning the jars.  Cleaning consisted of taking the larva out of the jars and putting them on a piece of paper towel.  Next, we took out a small paper towel circle that served as a liner and threw it away.  Then we took a piece of paper towel and used it to clean out any poop or extra things the butterflies didn’t need.  After we had completed that, we traced and cut out a circle from a piece of paper towel and placed it at the bottom of the jar.  Larva eat milkweed so students and Mrs. Ludington brought in some to feed the caterpillars so after we had measured, observed, and recorded everything in our science notebooks we placed one milkweed leaf and our caterpillars back in the jar.  We did this every day and hoped for signs of a chrysalis(or pupa stage.)
          Eventually, there was a chrysalis!  We were all so excited.  You can just imagine what we were like when nearly all of the caterpillars were in chrysalises!  After they were all in chrysalises all we could do was wait, and wait, and wait.  
          One day there was a Monarcbutterfly!!  From then on we were always looking at or just being with the Monarchs.  They were put in a butterfly condo and ate fruits or sugar water.  Soon there were thirty-two butterflies in the condo! Mrs. Ludington tagged most of the butterflies as they went into the condo.  The purpose of tagging the Monarchs is so that scientists can track the butterflies so they can figure out why they are dying so quickly.  Another reason is so that scientists can figure out how the Monarchs know how to go where they go. 

Then came the bittersweet day when we had to let them go.  We tagged and sexed the Monarchs and then let them fly.  It was an amazing day that I will never forget.  Our Monarchs are now on a journey in which they will cover three thousand miles to reach Mexico for the winter.  Monarchs are fragile and their journey, tough.  Many die each trip. 

 Monarchs are amazing creatures and extremely important. They are pollinators and help our  environment stay healthy. Monarchs are dying, though. They are dying partly because of humans. Monarchs cling to trees in the winter to keep warm but when humans cut down the trees monarchs can’t keep warm and therefore freeze to death.  On the way to Mexico, Monarchs cross farmers’ fields. When they stop to nectar (so they can have energy to fly) sometimes farmers spray pesticides. Even though the pesticides are not meant to kill Monarchs, they do. Monarchs should be saved and we can all make a difference.