Take your learning to the next level with these real-world applications! Engaging your learners in a community science project is an excellent way to further their learning and further grow the body of scientific knowledge for a given topic. On this page you will find some projects we recommend, as well as Friends of the Rainforest lessons they pair with.
CitSci.org: Monarch Rx
CitSci is a community science platform featuring a myriad of projects. One of the latest projects on this platform is Monarch Rx, which seeks to further understand a phenomenon observed in monarchs. Monarchs have been observed on occasion scratching their proboscis on the leaves of boneset leaves. Since monarchs feed exclusively on milkweed, this is not for the uptake of nourishment. Instead, these butterflies are taking up pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). While other milkweed butterflies use these to mimic pheromones in males, this behavior has been observed in both male and female monarchs, which begs the question: why?
Check out this article in Entomology Today for more details on this little-known monarch behavior, and the goals of Monarch Rx. This community science project pairs well with the Butterfly Bonanza lesson, or the Butterfly Mounting Kits. Extra resources can be provided by contacting our Education Coordinator.
Want to observe this phenomenon in your own backyard or schoolyard? You'll need boneset plants. Check out this guide from the Missouri Botanical Gardens to help you find what plants are right for your zone.