Monarchs in Space



the third body region of an insect, primary center for food processing in the caterpillar and reproduction in the adult


the second stage in the development of a butterfly or moth, also referred to as a larva


a post like structure at the end of the abdomen of a chrysalis bearing hooks and pegs that attaches the chrysalis to a substrate


a tough polymer, a major component of the cuticle of insects and other arthropods


the third stage in the development of butterfly – egg, caterpillar (larva), chrysalis (pupa), adult; the transformation that occurs during this stage is termed metamorphosis


a ring of curved hooks on the abdominal and anal prolegs of most caterpillars, used to cling to surfaces and silk


the skin of a caterpillar, chrysalis or adult – composed of proteins and chitin


the process of replacing an old skin with a new one that develops beneath it


to emergence of an adult form (butterfly or moth) from the chrysalis/pupa


the old skin shed in the process of ecdysis or molting


the fleshy tentacles on the second thoracic and the eighth abdominal segment of the monarch caterpillar


the digested leaves or, in this case, artificial diet expelled by the caterpillars

Free fall

falling through an atmosphere with acceleration provided by gravity, in space the astronauts are in continuous free fall due to the speed and arc of the orbit of the space station or shuttle


a force of attraction that brings objects together accounting for the existence of the earth and the planets or more simply, an explanation for why an apple falls to earth (as in Newton) rather than floats off into space; alternatively, as the force that causes objects to fall toward earth at a rate of 32 feet per second per second


a measurement of the force of gravity under conditions of acceleration, e.g. an object on the Earth’s surface experiences 1 g, while an object in free fall experiences 0 g, on lift off the astronauts experience about 3 gs, for a short time they weigh 3 times as much as they do on Earth.

Head capsule

the hard exoskeleton of the head region of the body, head capsules are shed along with the skin during each molt


the first body region of an insect, the head contains mouthparts, eyes, simple eyes (ocelli), antennae and is the site of most sensory input and processing


the developmental stage of a caterpillar between each molt, monarchs have 5 instars and five molts - becoming a chrysalis/pupa at the end of the 5th instar

J stage

the J shape of a monarch caterpillar that is preparing to form a chrysalis, the head is downward


a wormlike immature form, a term most often used to describe immature beetles, flies, ants and bees as well as butterflies and moths, in the latter case larvae are referred to as caterpillars

Malpighian tubules

organs that excrete wastes and water absorbed from the blood (hemolymph) into the intestine


a change in form, e.g. a process by which an organism changes from caterpillar to chrysalis and chrysalis to adult


an environment where the force of gravity is present but has a minimal effect

Negative geotaxis

moving away (upward) from the stimulus (gravity)

Negative phototaxis

moving away from a source of light


a response to a directional stimulus

Positive geotaxis

moving toward (downward ) the stimulus (gravity)

Positive phototaxis

moving toward a source of light


the coiled feeding tube of the adult butterfly, a “pump” at the base of this straw-like structure aids in feeding on liquids such as nectar and water


legs found on the abdomens of caterpillars/larvae of most butterflies and moths, aid in clinging to surfaces, there are 4 pairs of abdominal prolegs and a pair at the end of the caterpillar that are termed anal prolegs.


nerve endings that signal the positions of body parts giving the organism a “sense of self”


the third stage in the development of a butterfly, also known as a chrysalis


the process of transition from the last caterpillar/larval stage to the formation of the chrysalis/pupa, characterized by the shedding of the last larval skin to reveal the cuticle of the chrysalis beneath it


a protein secretion of the salivary glands that hardens immediately upon contact with the air, monarch larvae lay down silk strands as they move and create beds of silk that they anchor to prior to molting


the opening just behind and below the head of a caterpillar through which liquid silk is secreted


pairs of external openings that connect to airways (trachea) in the caterpillar, chrysalis and adult, caterpillars have a pair of spiracles in the first thoracic segment and eight pairs along the sides of the abdomen


a behavioral response such as moving away from or toward a directional stimulus


the second body region of an insect, primary function is locomotion, site of the true legs in caterpillars and both wings and legs in the adults

Thoracic legs

caterpillars have three pairs of thoracic legs as do adults but monarchs only use the second and third pair for walking; the first pair is reduced and held close to the body behind the head


a force (in this context a muscle movement) that causes a body to twist about an axis


a term used to describe the sensation described by astronauts experiencing continuous free fall – see free fall and zero gravity

Zero gravity

an unfortunate term, often used interchangeably with weightlessness, that implies a lack of gravity – a condition that does not exist on the shuttle or the International Space Station, the g force while in orbit is about 95% of that on the Earth’s surface

Back to Project Main Page

DONATE NOW! (pretty please)

Monarch Watch is a non-profit program based at the University of Kansas and we need your financial help to allow us to continue to offer educational, conservation, and research programs. If you enjoy and/or appreciate all that Monarch Watch offers throughout the year, please consider making a donation today - it's quick, easy, secure, and fully tax-deductible. You can even set up a recurring gift (monthly or annually) if you'd like. We rely on contributions from Monarch Watchers just like you to keep the program going - thank you for your continued support!


If you would rather mail in a donation or have questions, please visit Giving in Support of Monarch Watch.