The students in Janet McKnight’s classroom at Oswego County BOCES participated in a classroom project where they observed all four stages of a Monarch butterfly’s lifecycle – egg, caterpillar or larva, chrysalis or pupa, and imago or adult.
Starting in September the young scientists observed tiny eggs on the underside of a milkweed leaf.
Within a few days of this observation caterpillars hatched and students were responsible for feeding the young larva milkweed leaves.
The students monitored the caterpillars regularly, watched them eat, grow and transform into a chrysalis.
The students learned that this stage is also known as pupa and that each caterpillar is going through a transformation process known as metamorphosis.
The mature butterflies emerged from their chrysalis in 10 to 14 days and students learned how to differentiate between male and female butterflies – observing that they have four male and five female Monarch butterflies.
As a final component of the project the students researched how and where Monarch butterflies migrate, learning that the species travels mostly during daylight hours and can migrate very long distances, sometimes several thousand miles.