Hello, my name is Ms. Shin. Join me as I travel to New Orleans to study Climate Change and Caterpillars!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day One of Collecting!

Hello All,

Well today was a full day of hunting caterpillars at Honey Island Swamp near Pearl River. We saw and collected A LOT!

We are all out here trying to collect as many caterpillars as we can so we can study them to see how many are infected by Parasites (such as flies). Did you know parasites can lay their eggs inside or outside of a caterpillar? When the eggs hatch, they eat the caterpillar for food... yum!

Now before we get to the good stuff, it's always important to be prepared so here is a list of things I needed to bring with me on my expedition:

-Collecting permit
-20-gallon zip lock bags
-2 sharpies, scissors
-Wipes/hand sanitizer
-Notepad and pencil
-Bug spray
-hat and rain boots
-Bright orange vest (so hunters DO NOT mistaken Ms. Shin for a deer!)

We found a lot of interesting caterpillars and other bugs! However, guess what Ms. Shin spent most of her day doing?... other than collecting caterpillars.

I spent most of my day ESTIMATING how many leaves were on a tree!!! That's right! Let me tell you, it was NOT easy!!! There are thousands of leaves on a tree. You all get to estimate marbles, I had to estimate leaves on a variety of trees and shrubs (oak, maple, and more).

You see, what you learn in school IS IMPORTANT!!!

Now, I continue...

First, our expedition team had to find a spot to "plot," that means we only looked for caterpillars within a circular area (diameter) of 10 meters using plot tape (yellow string).

Second, we labeled and estimated all the trees and shrubs within that area. This took awhile.

Finally, we bagged and tagged the caterpillars within that site in a large, gallon, zip lock bag. There were seven important things we needed to write on these bags:
2-Plot site number
3-Caterpillar Species
4-Instar Number (the stage of their life... usually there are five)
6-The name of the plant it was found on
7-How many caterpillars (of the same species) were in the bag

O.k. now here is what you have been waiting for... the caterpillars.

This one is in the family Lymantriidae. Caterpillars in this family usually have three types of hair: 1) long and silky hair, 2) "hair pencils", and 3) "hair tufts." This combination of traits make the caterpillar look more like a punk rocker than an insect. This species is called Orgyia leucostigma. Can you find out what it looks like when it becomes a moth?

This one is in the family Saturniidae; this one will become the Polyphemus moth. Can you find out what it looks like when it becomes a moth? Caterpillars in this family are usually large enormous, and robust. The also have smooth and shiny heads.

Now comes the gold medal winners; we found these beauties while kayaking down Pearl River.

These HUGE caterpillars are called the "Banded Sphinx," they belong in the Hornworm family. These caterpillar can be found on the Primrose-Willow plant family. Although they come in a variety of colors (I even found a pink one), most if them have black spiracles edged with white, and diagonal white stripes pointing towards the head. Can you find out what these pupate (turn out) to be?

Well this is already a very long post, so that's all for now.

Till next time...

Ms. Shin

P.S. Did you know that caterpillar poop is called Frass!

P.P.S. I also saw a 15 foot alligator while I was kayaking. It's name is El Guapo (which means handsome in Spanish). He likes to eat marshmallows. I couldn't take a picture for you though, sorry. I was too busy paddling in the opposite direction! Ms. Shin did not have any marshmallows. So, maybe next time... maybe not.


  1. Hi Ms Shin! Its Nicole. YOU GET TO KAYAK? YOU ARS SOOOOO LUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those caterpillars look really cool on computer, they must look really cool in real life!!! Did you scream when you bugs? Haha. We all miss you. I want you to come back.it must be cool seeing a real live alligater.
    peace love and hugs,

  2. Dear Ms.Shin,
    I am so happy that you are having fun in New Orleans! What was the caterpillar that you were holding called? It looked so interesting, exciting and really really creepy!!!!!!!!!!! I hope that you come back soon, Ms.Shin! Everything is changing in class! We have no clue about what the plan or the schedule is! HELP!!!!!
    I really enjoyed your facts and your pictures from New Orleans. I hope that you have a funtime for the rest of your 5-6 days in New Orleans, Louisiana! These are your last 5-6 days in New Orleans, so you better enjoy it before you come back and start teaching us annoying, annoying kids! (HA! HA!)
    ~Your best student

  3. WOW!!!!!! Ms.Shin those caterpillars looked very cool and interesting! I bet you were scared puting that caterpillar on your hand!!! Well, I bet you will see many more exciting things!!!!! It looks like your having a lot of fun in New Orleans! Make sure no hunters hunt you down!!!!!
    P.S. Enjoy your trip in New Orleans!!!!!!
    From, your student, Ariel :)

  4. Hi Ms.Shin those caterpillars are very colorful. But the most funniest part is when you said you were paddling away from the fifeteen foot crocodile. I thought the coolest caterpillar was the one in the Lymantriidae Caterpillar family. That the caterpillar looked as it was transparent. The Banded Sphinx had a lot of colores, and it looks like the colors had been twisted so it looked like a spiral. There is one question, when you put the caterpillars in the zip-log bag, don't they die oflack of air?

    victor v.

  5. You are so lucky to be able to go on this trip, Ms. Shin! By the way the pictures were, you must be having lots of fun, right? By the way, did you freak out when you first put that caterpillar on your hand? HAHA if you did! Are you allowed to bring any caterpillars back? I wish you could. Well, I hope you have a great time ESTIMATING LEAVES AND FINDING YOUR CATERPILLARS! GET SOME GOOD PICTURES!
    P.S. Did you name that alligator, and how did you know it liked marshmallows if you didn't have?

  6. hi ms.shin,i see that you found some caterpillars.and you put some caterpillars on your and.WERE YOU AFRAID. ALSO I SAW YOU WRITE THAT YOU WENT KAYAKING AND SAW A ALLIGATORAND HE LIKED MARSHMALLOWS.


  7. Hey Ms.Shin,
    I'm glad that you are having fun. I bet you were feeling brave of holding the caterpillar. I see that you have found many kinds of caterpillars. The one you said about that alligator you saw when you were kayaking was the funny. Good luck. Your student,

  8. Sup Ms.shin,
    Again, Did you scream when you touch the catrepillar
    Your Student,

  9. Your fifth comment was from Derek, and so is this one.

  10. Dear ms. Shin those pictures look cool. I know you were afraid but i hope you weren't that afraid of the caterpillars. By the way is your professor helping you learn good facts about and not letting you near the bad caterpillars?? Liana

  11. Hi Ms.Shin,
    How was your trip. I think you were extermely scared when you saw the caterpillars. The caterpillars look awesome. They must have looked better in real life. The best one I like is the Banned Sphinx. Did you really see an aligator that could eat marshmellows? That would be cool if you could see it eating a marshmellows. Have fun!

  12. Hi Ms. Shin! Wow you must have had a lot of fun! Too bad you didn't have marshmellows. I have never saw a crocodile before...did it scare you!!! I hope you have a wonderful time.
    From your student,

  13. Hi ms.shin!omg i liked the banned sphinx.it is so big!also did u freak out when you were tring to get away fron the 15 foot aligator?Your so lucky to go on that trip.How did it feel when you were holding the caterpillar?

    From, myserious Darren