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Section 3d: Milkweed Characteristics

Butterfly Weed

This video eight of the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project video training series, introducing the Milkweed Characteristics activity. Data from this activity provides information on how female monarchs choose milkweed for egg laying.

Next Video in Training Series > Section 3e: Rearing, Survival, and Parasitism

Related Activities

  1. Activity #4 Comparing Milkweed Characteristics

Glossary of Terms

  • conservation
    protection and preservation through careful management.
  • data
    singular, datum: factual information that can be used as a basis for understanding something.
  • ecosystem
    a system of interactions between a community of living organisms and their environment.
  • frass
    the waste product of larvae, called caterpillar poop by most. Monarch larvae produce a lot of this, especially in their later instars.
  • Oe (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha)
    a protozoan that infects monarchs and is known to decrease health, fecundity, and life span. It is passed by infected females to offspring when protozoan spores are rubbed onto milkweed (eaten by developing caterpillars) as they are laying their eggs.
  • parasitoids
    nsects that lay their eggs on or inside another insect species (called their host). The eggs hatch and feed on the host from the inside, eventually killing the host.
  • sample size
    the number of replicates in an experiment. Larger sample sizes reduce the effects of random chance.
  • tachinid flies
    (tah-KIN-id): a fly family with about 1300 species in North America. Parasitic tachinids usually attach eggs to the outside of the host’s body. The eggs hatch, then the tachinid larvae burrow into the host and begin feeding inside. The host is almost always killed. The species that live in monarchs are gray and smaller than houseflies.
  • transect
    a sample strip of land used to monitor plant or animal populations and distribution within a given area.

Photo Credits (in order of appearance)

1. Adult monarch nectaring on Asclepias incarnata: Bill Johnson, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
2. Boy monitoring milkweed patch: Charles J. Gatchell
3. Monarch egg close-up: Monarch Lab Photo
4. Other milkweed organisms: Richard B. Hicks and Anurag Agrawal
5. Milkweed buds, flowers, and seed pods: Karen Oberhauser, Monarch Watch, and Wendy Caldwell
6. Field of milkweed: Denny Brooks Young
7. Asclepias syriaca, or common milkweed: Wendy Caldwell
8. Patch of common milkweed, or Asclepias syriaca: Wendy Caldwell