Monarch Development Process
Location: Outside U.S.
Date: Spring 2012
Our 2nd grade class is observing the life cycle of what appears to be monarch butterflies unfold. Currently, our little caterpillars appear to be shedding chunks of their bodies. What is happening to them?
The monarchs are molting. Since insects have exoskeletons (skeletons on the outside of the body) they must periodically "shed" to accommodate further growth. These shed exoskeletons are known as exuvia. Each stage in-between a molt is known as an instar. Try to have your students count the number of molts before the caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis.
Dr. Tim Durham
Undergraduate Studies & University Colloquium
Department of Biological Sciences
Florida Gulf Coast University
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Update: June 2012