Welcome to my blog! I'm glad you can join me as I Hunt for Caterpillars! Check back daily for updates.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Can you find my bunk bed?

We spent the past week at the bunk house at the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area. This is run by the Louisiana Department of Fish and Game. This was our research center while we were in the field.

Which bunk bed do you think was mine?

This is our kitchen, office, caterpillar rearing area of the bunkhouse. We were able to enter data on the caterpillars, blog, and organize our picture we were taking.

What name would you give this caterpillar? Why?

We found this caterpillar on Sunday,he has a scientific name, but we have all given him a "pet name." What would you name him? Why?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Mystery Sound

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A Day on the Pearl River

On Friday my teammates Ann, Mike and I spent the day on the Pearl River. We put in at the next boat launch up the road. We were prepared for a day in the sun, we each carried a gallon of water, sunscreen, bugspray, and caterpillar hunting equipment. Well, at least we thought we had our caterpillar hunting equipment...as Mike went through the mental checklist while we were well on our way on the river we discovered that we had forgotten our GPS (global positioning system) and our data logger (Palm Pilot). So we did an aboutface and paddle up the river...against the current. After about 15 minutes Ann and I decided to pull ashore and let Mike go back to the take in point. The rivers here in Louisiana are very different than those in California. They are fairly flat. The water is murky and muddy looking. One of the reasons is that there is a lot of tannin in the water from the decomposing leaves. There is also a lot of sediment in the water. In California,our rivers are fairly clear and most of them begin high in the Sierra Nevada. CHALLENGE QUESTION: What animals do you think you would find both on California rivers and rivers such as the Pearl River in Louisiana? What animals do you think are different? What kind of fish do you think we have in common? Do you think they have salmon in the rivers in Louisiana? Which are different?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Caterpillar Friends

Can you find the animal

Here are some pictures I have taken on our trips out into Honey Island Swamp, look closely and see if you can find the animal in the picture. Many animals use camoflauge to stay away from predators.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Challenge for Today - Working Transects

Answer the questions about the parasites and parasitoids. Today we spent our first time in the field actually hunting caterpillars. It was difficult. We saw a lot of really neat gold orb spiders they are about 6 and 1/2 inches long. Here is a math problem: Today we set up transects that were 10 meters in diameter. What was their radius? Do you think you can determine the area of the transect?

While hunting we looked for evidence that the caterpillars had been eating; chewed leaves, holes in leaves, and missing leaves. We also looked for leaves that were rolled up. The common name for the caterpillars that do this is leaf folders. We found our first caterpillar rolled up in a dry leaf. Then when we had finished that we used a tool called a beat sheet. A large square of taut fabric held beneath the plant to catch any falling caterpillars when the tree was hit with a stick.

A Hint

Javier I really like the way you think. You might want to listen to the sound again with this in mind....the sound is made by something manmade that runs on two tracks and uses electricity. I have tried twice to upload a picture hint but our internet connection isn't working well enough.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Parasite or Parasitoid

Here are some things that I learned today. A parasite is an organism that lives at the expense of its host which it doesn’t usually kill. A parasitoid kills its host. If you are a parasitoid, would you rather lay your eggs in a caterpillar that is well defended i.e. uses camouflage, has a covering that repels predators, or uses other defenses? Or would you prefer a caterpillar that isn’t well defended? Back up your answer.

Listen to this mystery sound and post your guesses in comments

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Greetings from New Orleans

Greetings from New Orleans. Yesterday was my travel day, got up at 3:00am to be on the road to the Sacramento airport by 3:30am, my flight was at 6:30am. Stopped in Dallas for about an hour and arrived here at 2:35pm. New Orleans is on Central Time and you are on Pacific Time. What does that mean? We have a two hour time difference. Right now it is 10:48am in New Orleans (as I write) and it is 8:48am in Empire.

Look at the picture at the top of the page! What do you infer is going on? Is it a parasite growing on the tree? or is it a symbiotic relationship (good for both)? What do you think the plant is? What kind of tree?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Word about Spelling

Please excuse our spelling on our first blogs. We are early into our fourth grade year and this was my student's first time using the computers. I was so pleased that they were able to use the caterpillar activity to explore what a caterpillar needs to survive and post their comments. The activity lets students choose the color, what kind of spines, and other characteristics. In making their decision they are supposed to pay attention to the leaf color and who the predators are.
While working in our garden at school or in your own yard at home, what type of butterflies have you seen? Have you seen any caterpillars? Have you observed any eggs on or below leaves? Try to remember what you have seen go on this California Butterfly site and see if you can identify what you have seen.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What does your caterpillar need to survive?

Several years ago a teacher had the opportunity to work with Dr. Dyer with caterpillars and created this really cool activity.

Use this site to build a caterpillar built for survival, then post your comments here so I can hear about what you learned.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Two weeks till the hunt begins...

It seems as if summer has flown by, and so has the first two weeks of school. I have been diligently watching the weather and was very relieved last week when Gustav lost power. One of the things I wonder about is how the rainfall affected the caterpillars and their parasitic friends? Is there more damage by wind or rain? Another curiosity is what will Ike do? If you go on you NOAA's website can track the path of hurricane Ike and Hanna. Where do you predict that Ike will make landfall (that is where a hurricane comes on land)?