Student Challenge Questions: Set Two

Thank you for visiting! We hope you find these challenges helpful. They can be used as stand-alone assignments or to initiate class discussion. Since these are general, all-age challenges, you may need to modify them to fit the needs of your specific students. We encourage you to visit the Student Challenge topics in our forum to share your responses, experiences and any comments, questions or suggestions for future challenges. The forum can also be a place where your students provide their responses to get direct feedback from Monarch Watch staff!

Student Challenges 11-13

Egg-Laying Characteristics 

As monarchs move into your regions this spring, many of you will be outside excitedly searching for their eggs on your milkweed plants. When you do so, think about the following questions for your students to research and answer. And of course, these are general questions that you may need to modify to better serve your students.

  • Why do monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed?
  • What are some reasons the females lay most of their eggs on the underside of the leaves?
  • How many eggs does one female monarch typically lay in her adult life?
  • Do females lay eggs fertilized from one male, or do they mate more than once?
  • What makes the eggs stick to the leaves?
  • How long does it generally take an egg to hatch once it has been laid? What are some factors that impact this?
  • On average, how many eggs will hatch?
  • What is the likelihood that a caterpillar will reach adulthood? On average, out of 100 eggs laid, how many will develop and survive to reach adulthood?

Don't forget to share your responses in the forum! The path is: Forum--->Challenge Questions for Students--->Enough Milkweed to Sustain Growing Caterpillars.

Enough Milkweed to Sustain Growing Caterpillars


When monarchs migrate in the spring, they are in a race against time. Since these are the monarchs that overwintered, they typically die before the end of April. Due to this, they are in a race to lay as many eggs as possible in order to repopulate the next generation of monarchs.

  • Do monarchs ever lay their eggs on plants other than milkweed?
  • Will monarchs migrate into areas that don't have milkweed up yet? If so, what happens? If not, why not?
  • Look at the picture above (taken by Kathy Metzger Montgomery, Texas March 20, 2017 for Journey North) that shows a female laying an egg on a young milkweed plant. Once the caterpillar hatches, will their be enough food on this plant to sustain it as it progresses through the caterpillar stage? If so, how does this happen? If not, what are some possible outcomes for the caterpillar?

Don't forget to share your responses in the forum! The path is: Forum--->Challenge Questions for Students--->Enough Milkweed to Sustain Growing Caterpillars.

Early Spring-Late Winter

Many parts of the country experienced spring-like weather in February. This weather spurred plants and animals to get in spring mode. As a result, many plants began sprouting, budding and/or blooming. March has been a different story for much of the country, with freezing temperatures all around.

  • Do you live in an area where plants began sprouting, budding, and/or blooming?
  • If so, what observations are you making? What are some of the plants you feel are most affected? Will they recover?
  • If you have lilacs around you, where they affected?
  • Do you think these weather fluctuations will negatively impact the monarch? Other pollinators?
  • If so, why? In what ways?
  • If you don't feel it will impact monarchs, why not?