Our segment had many large milkweeds that were more like bushes, so we saw plenty of insects. We measured a whole bunch of monarch caterpillars, most of them in their fifth instar. Walking up to a plant, we would see one or two caterpillars, but, upon closer inspection, there would be more like five or six. On one of the plants, we discovered a praying mantis that was green and about three inches long! To our dismay, it was eating a monarch caterpillar. Our presence disturbed it, and it dropped the caterpillar, only to start walking to the top of the stock to go grab another one to continue it’s feast! For the sake of the study’s subjects, we relocated the praying mantis to another milkweed; one without monarchs.
Ronja Keeley, Olivia Whitehead, Katie Hall