Mystery Caterpillar Challenge and IPM or Organic Gardening practices

You live in the countryside in Central Pennsylvania. Your family is growing a large vegetable garden. You are weeding the garden with your mom. You discover lots of holes chewed in the rhubarb plant's leaves. It has taken 3 years to get this rhubarb plant to grow this big. The whole family was looking forward to strawberry and rhubarb pie next spring. You discover the offender - a white caterpillar is hidden away under the leaf.

Instinctively, you are inclined to kill this caterpillar. But your mom has invested years in making much of the property into a big habitat garden. She is trying to attract and nurture butterflies and moths. Caterpillars are one stage in the life cycle of lepidoptera. You decide to identify this feasting critter, before you decide to "do in" the offending beastie.

You grab a camera and take a photo. That way you can look it up more easily.

Hone your entomologic science skills by identifying this caterpillar.

fuzzy white caterpillar on rhubarb leaf

Click on photo for an enlarged view

Once you know which species it is, decide its fate.

Mr. Malathion, who lives next door, offers to go to his shed and get his dandy, "Nuke'em All" bug spray pesticide.
What are some of the serious issues to consider before using a pesticide?


How do Integrated Pest Management practices or organic garden practices suggest you manage the problem?


Basic Guide to Pesticides: Their Characteristics and Hazards

The Environmental Working Group has found that some of the most common pesticides in treated drinking water.


Butterflies of Meadows, Fencerows and Fields

Life Cycle of Butterflies & Moths ID Me! - identifying Monarchs activity
Mystery Butterfly Project   Observation Science skills builders: Larvae | Nest | Bush
Collecting Data (Int/Adv) Variables (Adv) School Habitat Garden Project

ivy rule

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Posted August 2008 by Cynthia O'Hora

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Proof your responses. It is funny how speling errors and typeos sneak in to the bets work. smiling icon Make Your Own Printed Answer Sheet.

An essential element of inquiry in elementary science education is a focus on the following process skills:

Observing - watching carefully, taking notes, comparing and contrasting
Questioning - asking questions about observations; asking questions that can lead to investigations
Hypothesizing - providing explanations consistent with available observation
Predicting - suggesting an event in the future, based on observations
Investigating - planning, conducting, measuring, gathering data, controlling variables
Interpreting - synthesizing, drawing conclusions, seeing patterns
Communicating - informing others in a variety of means: oral, written, representational

National Science Foundation - Foundations Vol 2. The Process Skills of Inquiry