Teatown Campers Collect Monarch Parasite Data for Citizen Science Project
Teatown Summer Camp’s second session Earth Stewards (ages 8-12) collected data for Project Monarch Health, a citizen science research project led by the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. The campers sampled 34 monarchs this year, a record for Teatown, before submitting their data to the university. Teatown campers have been collecting data for Project Monarch Health for 5 years.
About Project Monarch Health
Project Monarch Health monitors a protozoan parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) in monarch butterflies. While this parasite does not affect humans, effects on adult monarchs can be severe. Some grow and appear as normal monarchs do, but don’t weigh as much or fly as well. Some die in the chrysalis, while in other cases they emerge as deformed monarchs that cannot survive long.
Project Monarch Health’s website, monarchparasites.org explains the process of collecting monarch data: “To check for OE in monarchs, citizen scientists first obtain wild adult monarchs by either catching them or rearing caterpillars until they become adults. Second, citizen scientists press a clear sticker against each monarch’s abdomen to collect any parasites. The monarchs are then released, totally unharmed. Finally, citizen scientists send samples to our lab at The University of Georgia, where we count OE parasites using a microscope. We share these results with volunteers and later report the data online or in published scientific articles.”
Interested in getting involved with this project? Visit monarchparasites.org to order a free sampling kit, and to learn more about OE.
At this time of year the Cliffdale fields are whirling with insect activity. Monarchs are getting ready for the fall migration, grasshoppers and crickets are leaping about, and mantids are stalking their prey. Grab a net and see what you can find! For everyone.