Student Challenge Awards Program
Diversity and Natural Defense of Desert Caterpillars
Earthwatch Institute JUNE 2007
fall of 2006, these amazingly talented, devilishly attractive, funny, awesome
students applied for a spot on a SCAP research expedition. A few months later, we were notified that we
had made it through the first selection process but that the number of people
still had to be cut in half. Luckily, we
all made it, and were able to form the best SCAP team yet, The Earthwatch
Heroes. We were sent to Portal,
Dates: June 15th 2007 to June 28th 2007
Location: SWRS, Portal,
-To document diversity of Lepidoptera
species in diverse environment of southern
- To study tri trophic interactions between host plants, Lepidoptera, and their various parasitoids.
- To study immune system reactions of Lepidoptera to parasitoids in relation to diet and host plant toxicity.
Hobbies: Playing violin, art, music, reading
Favorite Caterpillar: Eois (Geometridae)
What do you do? Graduate student at
Hobbies: Dancing to live music, riding my bike
Favorite Caterpillar: Camouflaged looper – Synchlora aerate. These cute Geometridae are in costume for much of their larval phase; masquerading as flowers and other plant parts
What do you do? Graduate student at
Hobbies: Art of all sorts, hanging out, volunteering, acting like a kid
Favorite Caterpillar: Noctuidae only because no one else likes them.
Hobbies: Caving ha ha fun fun, and hiking, and playing games… I like e monopoly, and I don’t like swimming, but I do like canoeing.
Favorite Caterpillar: I love them all!
Hobbies: skiing, guitar, ping pong, rocking out, neck bush
Favorite Caterpillar: Saturniidae
Hobbies: Swimming, scuba, and everything with water, drawing, listening to music, hanging with friends, goffing around
Favorite Caterpillar: Synchlora
Bart Van Der Puy
Hobbies: Music, Water, Drawing, Friends, Grinning
Favorite Caterpillar; Geometridae, of course.
Hobbies: Running, Playing and listening to music, driving around, and hanging out with my friends.
Favorite Caterpillar: Arctiidae
June 15 – Arrival, Ice Breakers, attunement
June 16 – 1st Field day (
June 17 – SWRS arrival
June 18 – Blacklighting
June 19 – Heidi presentation
June 20 – Bat cave
June 21 – Free Day hike
June 22 – 30+ caterpillar collection
June 23 –
June 24 – Caterpillar Surgery
June 25 –Cave presentation
June 26 –Bonfire
June 27 – Pirates of the
June 28- Departure, goodbyes
Caterpillars are sweet! After several days, the tiny insects seem to peak our interests. In some way Lepidoptera are better than Christmas. They entrance us with erratic patterns, odd habits, shape, color, and rhythmic motion. The majority of our findings have been in plots. Although, we have captured caterpillars through general collection, premeditated discovery, and even phone booths! Plots require GPS, nets, beat sticks, a foliage count, coordinate markers, plastic baggies and 3-4 pairs of eyes. Back at the station, we rear and document the caterpillars. The master copy of an excel worksheet document research done by past scientists; this history continues to re-juice our attention.
June 15— We dine at a Mexican restaurant, Lee’s 1st talk, meeting each other
Our favorite memory- Meeting in the airport
The official quote:
“Today was more like a
trip to another planet than a migration in my own state. I have never been
west, or to the desert. I encountered things that I had seen on television but
never in real life. Saguaro cacti rose far above my head, and dotted the
hillside in place of the pines and firs that I am so used to from
June 16— We dine at a Mexican restaurant, Lee presentation in lobby,4 plots on mount Lemmon, Cactus forests, Desert Museum
June 17 – Zoo introduction and practice Dine at SWRS, SWRS arrival
Our favorite memory— Cranium
June 18 – Blacklighting, handstands, killjar, rave
Our favorite memory --- “I am mysterio?” –Lee Dyer
June 19 – Soccer, Heidi and Differential Parasitism of a Specialist Caterpillar between two Tropical Forests and Related Host Plants, Portal, General collection,
Our favorite memory – General collection
June 20 – Lee’s Campground mountain climb, 2 plots at summit of climb, bat cave, group photo, Zoo!, Frisbee, drawing! Yaaayyy!!!
Our favorite memory—
We learned the true meaning of outback today. We went climbing over boulders up a mountainside and got to check out a cool cave, which apparently used to be home to some mountain lions, along the way. We did plots on the sides of mountains, but they were a little disappointing since we only found one caterpillar, but the journey to get to the plots made it all worth it.
Preference was given to zoo in preparation of the approaching Free Day. Tasks included cleaning, photography, labeling, and plant identification. Plant identification threw Earth Watch teammates for a loop while others excelled at the task. In addition, Eric, Heidi and Brittany made ringer solution and dyed beads red and in two days, we will inject the caterpillars with the red beads to learn more about their immune response to parasitoids. It was another work day, but we always have so much fun that it really doesn’t seem like work. Psstt…Tom got tampon’d!
June 21 -- Free Day!, Hiking, Funky rocks, water, Sing song walking, Drawing!, cell phone reception
Our favorite memory—Lunch
June 22 – 30 plus caterpillars found near station, Finally Eric is AWAKE! He busts out a computer camera and the group uploads videos to facebook, caterpillar surgery, pupating caterpillar
Our favorite memory – filming the station
A morning in the life of Bart:
“It is breakfast time. Soon it is apparent that the teams will plot at SWRS. After breakfast Bart falls asleep because he is wiped. Bart gathers plastic baggies, mp3 player, and beating tools. 20 minutes into the plot, Eric catching 5 geo’s in a net. Ca-ching! Bart powers down the mp3 player and the chore has his full attention.”
June 23 – Lime Caves, Under my Umbrella…, THE THING, Kubla Khan, Mitch Hedburg
Our favorite memory – Cell phone reception and car ride sing along
June 24 – Caterpillar surgery, Eric’s cave presentation, funky toilets, techno phone jams
Our favorite memory— Zoo and Surgery!
June 25 – praying mantises, night collecting, blinding Brittany, Ben’s broken foot, Bart falls over a yucca
Our favorite memory – night collecting in the full moon
June 26 –volunteer bonfire, caterpillar dissection, lame jokes
Our favorite memory – the sun spider scaring Holden
June 27 –
Our favorite memory –
June 28 –
Our favorite memory – Saying goodbye to all our new friends.