school projects

WATCHING A CATERPILLAR GROW



This projects show you how to prepare a home for caterpillars on plants where you see half-eaten leaves – they may be hiding on the undersides. Take some of these leaves with the caterpillars you find. Use a field guide to identify the species you have found, and which plants they prefer. Try not to touch caterpillars directly with your fingers, since some species may sting. Pick them up with a paintbrush, or encourage them to climb onto a leaf. Carry them in a jar. At home, keep the caterpillars out of direct sunlight, in a moist, cool place. Try not to disturb them. Clean the box regularly, and replace old leaves with fresh ones.

YOU WILL NEED


Scissors, cardboard box, strong tape, muslin or netting, nonhardening modeling material, rubber gloves, fresh leaves, kitchen paper, collecting jar containing caterpillars, ruler, pencil, notebook, field guide, colored pencils.

Step 1

STEP 1

Cut holes in the sides of the box for windows. Using strong tape, cut out and stick pieces of muslin or netting over the windows to cover them securely.

step 2
STEP 2
Now cut a large piece of muslin to make the cage lid. Weight the corners of the muslin lid down with modeling material, to prevent the caterpillars from escaping.


step3
STEP 3
Wearing a pair of gloves, put some fresh leaves inside the box. Make sure that they are from a plant your caterpillars eat. Be sure to provide fresh leaves daily.

step 4
STEP 4
Put some damp kitchen paper in a corner of the box to provide moisture. Carefully transfer your caterpillars from the collecting jar to the box. Cover with the lid.

step 5
STEP 5
Check your caterpillars every day, and replace the damp kitchen paper. Record how much they eat and how big they are. Remember to replace the leaves daily.

step 6
STEP 6
Watch how your caterpillars feed and move around on the leaves. Record the dates when you see them molting (shedding skin). How many times did they shed their skins?

step 7
STEP 7
When it has finished growing, the caterpillar will change into a pupa, or chrysalis. It will attach itself to the stem of a food plant, and form a new skin. Make a note of the date.

step 8

STEP 8
Check your pupa every day, and write down the date when you see the case splitting. Compare your two dates. How long did the insect spend as a pupa?

step 9

STEP 9
You will see a butterfly or moth struggle out of the old skin. The insect rests and pumps blood into its crumpled wings to straighten them out before flying off.

Chart
Keep a chart of the life cycles of your insects.

When the caterpillars become adult moths or butterflies, it is time to let them go. Take the insects back to where you find them. Lift the lid off the box, and let them fly away.

Butterfly




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