Hello, my name is Ms. Hegarty. Join me as I travel to New Orleans to study Climate Change and Caterpillars!

Monday, September 27, 2010


OMG! Really, that is what I have being saying all day. I saw a caterpillar the size of a hot dog, a spider as large as my face and kayaked with a 15 foot alligator! OMG!!!!

The day started with field work. The scientists and volunteers ( there are 5 of us) drove to Honey Eye Island Swamp, about 15 min away from the bunkhouse. We put on our goofy rain boots ( mine are pink from Target!) and walked into the swamp! We learned how to collect caterpillars from a field plot. A field plot is the area being studied. For this study, the field plot is a ten meter circle. We attached a 10m. plot tape (a measured out orange string) to a tree and used that as the center a circle. The plot tape is marked at the center (5m). The plot is the circle around the tree (diameter 5 meters). In this space we searched for caterpillars. After one is found, it is put in a large ziplock. The bag is labled with 5 things: 1. Date

2. Plant species it is found on

3. The species of caterpillar

4. The estimated maturity of the caterpillar.

5. The collectors initials (JH)

Finding the caterpillars is difficult but easier than the other job- identifying and counting all the vegetation. I have to identify the plant and then count how many leaves it has then estimate how much has been eaten by insects. So there was a Red Maple in Plot 1. We estimated 30,ooo leaves! I have been told that this job will get easier the more I do it. So you see, your skills of inference and observation are very useful outside the classroom!


This spider is called a Golden Orb Weaver. It was very friendly.

This caterpillar is a White-Marked Tussock Moth. I found it today and took this picture!
Warm up question:
What do think of the plot size? (10 meters) What if was 5 meters or 2 meters? How would this affect the results?
oh, I almost forgot!! Frass is caterpillar poop!!!
Today's word is gravid. Look it up!! ( I was looking at a female Praying Mantis when I found out about this word)


  1. With a smaller plot size, area, you would collect fewer specimens and this would affect your results. The smaller the plot size means less material to research. We thought you were afraid of spiders? Where are you today??

  2. A smaller plot size would require more scientists to collect results. Results for a smaller plot would mean few catepillars to collect. How many catepillars have you collected since you have been there? Is there a huge variety in species??

  3. In a large space, there will be more species of caterpillars. Plot size is optimal, because 2 or 5 m. is too small. Sarah is concerned about your diet. What are you eating in that bunkhouse?

    Was the spiderweb different than those we have here?

  4. If the plot size were smaller, the specimen population might be smaller.

    But checking a smaller area must be easier!

    Ian says hi! Andrew Fred is being a total pain, please check your blog tonight for a special message from him.

    How's the weather?

  5. Dear Mrs. Hegarty I know that some species are specific to particular plant species and that some are facultative but I would like to know about any phyiological symbiotic relatioships between the plant and the caterpillar. That is other than camourflage Thank you

  6. pictures are great...keep them coming