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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Who Knew?

I did not realise how much there was to know about caterpillars! My favorite word for the day is "frass". Look it up if you get a chance. I will tell you what it means tomorrow. Did you know butterfly caterpillars form pupae (1 pupa, 2 pupae) and moth caterpillars form a pupa and then it is covered by a cocoon? About 90% of all caterpillars turn into moths. One of you asked whether it was possible to tell if a caterpillar is male or female. I asked the researchers and they said that caterpillars do not show a gender and that they basically live to eat, not reproduce. It is possible to determine the gender of a butterfly or moth. Good question!

There was an incredible thunderstorm last night. There was a lot of rain, thunder, and lightning. When I checked my rain boots this morning they were half full of water because I left them up right. Duh! After breakfast I was taught some characteristics of common caterpillars. We learned about their anatomy and coloration. I really paid attention when the researchers described and talked about the stinging caterpillars!

After breakfast, we paddled in kayaks on the Pearl River. It is part of the Pearl River Management Area near Slidell, Louisiana. It is about 35,000 acres. We paddled close to shore so we could find caterpillars in the overhanging vegetation. They are really difficult to find because they mimic leaves, twigs and the petiole (stem) of the leaf. I was very surprized when I saw a racoon staring at me from an over hanging branch!

Ok, here is the warm up question.

The research scientists are very concerned that we are trained properly. They want to make sure that we follow the correct procedures and are consistant with the way we collect the caterpillars. Why do you think this is so imprtant for their research?

Do you have any questions for me? Ask!


  1. Hey Girlfriend,

    Glad to see that you made it safely to the Bayou. I imagine your weather is much warmer then the 60 degrees we have here today. Your post came up great - I will have our classes respond to you each day by mod. Have a blast, and know we are thinking of you and wishing you all the best.

    Your pal, Szczublewski :-)

  2. Proper technique is important. If technique is not followed, data might change the second time around. Unable to repeat the experiment correctly if you do not follow a set procedure. Are you having fun yet? (mod 4)

  3. Handling of caterpillars should be consistent so that they are subject to the same conditions.

    Don't want subjects (caterpillar) harmed.

    Want to observe only caterpillars, and not other specimens.

    don't want to alter other variables in the experiment.

    If you don't know what you are doing, you can't research it correctly.

    Hello, Ms. H!

  4. Fascinating! How do you collect specimens from overhanging vegetation without flipping the kayak? You must be an expert kayaker!

  5. Wow, what wonderful photographs along with an excellent blog. Your students must be very proud of you. Isn't it great being a biologist when you can actually "pratice what you preach". What is eventually done with all the data which you are all collecting? Are the specimens released or preserved? Will you be able to associate with the papers which are published?