Ms. Jeanine Ging, sixth grade science and math teacher, has been raising monarchs for four years and released her hundredth one this year. Every year Ms. Ging gets monarch caterpillars and milkweed. The caterpillars start to eat the milkweed and they get really big and grubby. Whenever a caterpillar is fully grown it is called a fifth instar. Once a fifth instar is ready to make its chrysalis it will climb to the top of the container and build a silk patch that will hold the chrysalis in place. The caterpillar then hangs in a J shape until it makes its chrysalis. In about 13 days the butterfly will emerge from its chrysalis and dry its wings out. Ms. Ging will tag the butterfly, then it will spread its wings and make its remarkable journey to Mexico.
The reason Ms. Ging tags the butterflies is to see if they make it to Mexico to lay their eggs. Before she releases them she measures them and weighs them. She also checks them for parasites. She does this by placing a clear sticker on the butterfly’s thorax and then placing the sticker on a white piece of paper. Ms. Ging can then take her microscope and look for any parasites. The parasites can affect the way the butterflies grow and develop, causing problems with their wings or proboscis.
Ms. Ging became interested in monarch butterflies when someone at a conference did a lecture on monarch butterflies and how to tag them. She found it really cool and decided to get into it herself.
“I find it so cool I can touch and work with an animal that is almost on the endangered species list. I can collect data to help this delicate creature,” Ms. Ging said.
Once Ms. Ging fell in love with monarch butterflies she knew her students would too. She decided to bring them into the classroom as a learning opportunity.
“I think they are fascinating. They definitely have more of a purpose than just flying around,” Paige Krampy, sixth grade student, said.`