The Munching Caterpillar - Monarch Butterfly USA
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The Munching Caterpillar

MONARCH LIFE CYCLE

Munch-a-Bunch of Milkweed …crunch…munch…yum-yum-milkweed…

MEET “STRETCH” The Munching Machine Caterpillar!

PHOTO: L.D. Williams

“Plant MILKWEED ~ and they will come!”

Raising monarchs take LOTS of love, LOTS of dedication…and LOTS OF MILKWEED!

caterpillar

PHOTO: Steven Munafo via Monarch Joint Venture.

caterpillar

PHOTO: Will Cook via CarolinaNature.com.

…munch…munch…crunch…munch…Munch!

MY SKIN’S TOO TIGHT!

Monarch Caterpillar MUNCHING UP its skin after shedding! Now that’s a hungry caterpillar!

CREDIT: Lynn Rosenblatt

Monarch Caterpillar MOLTING…shedding its skin!!

CREDIT: Lynn Rosenblatt

The caterpillar’s “skin” or cuticle is like a shell – it does not grow. As the caterpillar body grows bigger and bigger, it outgrows its skin and needs to SHED it. The caterpillar squeeeeezes, pushes and tugs as it wiggles out of its tight old skin.

CREDIT: Jenny Shelton

Then it rubs off its FACE MASK. Even the face mask has become too small. The most amazing part is when the caterpillar turns around and EATS its own skin. Just like the eggshell that it ate for breakfast, the old skin is filled with vitamins to help our caterpillar grow big and strong. Kids love to collect the skins and face masks as the caterpillars grows. You can easily tape them onto a piece paper for your science collection. Show all your friends!

PHOTO: Lydia Bartram

PHOTO: Holli Webb Hearn

PHOTO: Holli Webb Hearn

SNAKESKIN

Do you shed your skin? You might say, “Of course not. I’m NOT a caterpillar, I’m a human being,” – but think again. Humans DO shed their skin every day as dry flaky skin sheds or peels off and new skin cells grow. Think of how your skin peels after a sunburn. Other creatures shed their skin, too! Can you think of a creature that outgrows their entire skin and molts? Take a look at this SNAKESKIN! WOW…that’s shedding!

THE SILK BUTTON

VIDEO: Allison Glovak

PHOTO: Siah St. Clair, All of Nature blog

PHOTO: Siah St. Clair, All of Nature blog

PHOTO: Siah St. Clair, All of Nature blog

CATERPILLARS AT WORK

PHOTO: Holli Webb Hearn

PHOTO: Holli Webb Hearn

PHOTO: Lynn Rosenblatt – Silk Button

PHOTO: Lynn Rosenblatt – Silk Network

THE SILK MAKERS

Can you make a Silk Button? Of course not … you’re a human being, NOT a caterpillar! But other insects use strands of silk to build their webs and cocoons.

Silkworms spins nets of silk for laying their eggs and making their strong silk cocoons. Silkworm cocoons are used to make the luxurious silk clothing we wear.

Woolly bear moth caterpillars weave a unique cocoon by pulling out their own body hairs and weaving them into the cocoon.

Spiders send out a dragline to move quickly from one place to another and build majestic webs.

woolly-bear-moth
caterpillar

PHOTO: Biology Department Harper College.

PHOTO: Laura Berman via Green Fuse Photos.

After the fifth and final skin shed, the monarch goes into its next stage of life. Through an amazing metamorphosis – a total body CHANGE – the caterpillar transforms into a beautiful green chrysalis.

Chrysalis

PHOTO: April Wietrecki Green via Fine Art America.

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