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The metamorphosis of the Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)Featured science projectScience project video


The materials required for this science fair project:
- 3 transparent fish tanks
- 60 Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars
- 3 leafy plants that can be placed in the fish tank
- 1 air conditioned room
- 1 incandescent lamp
- 3 thermometers


1. For this science fair project, the independent variable is the temperature that the caterpillars are exposed to during the chrysalis stage. The dependent variable is the number of days it takes for the transformation from the beginning of  the chrysalis stage until the butterfly emerge. This is determined by observing and counting the chrysalis in the tank everyday. The constants (control variables) are the number of butterflies, the species of butterflies used, the type of leaves the caterpillars are fed and the size of the fish tank.

2. The 3 fish tanks are labeled A, B and C. One leafy potted plant is placed in each fish tank. Twenty Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars are placed on the plants in each tank.

3. The 3 tanks are kept under the following conditions.

a. Tank A –an air conditioned room where the temperature is maintained at 18° C,

b. Tank B –at normal room conditions with temperature around 24° C ,

c. Tank C –under  an incandescent lamp with an average temperature at 30° C

4. Not all caterpillars will move on to the chrysalis stage on the same day. You'll need to carefully observe all of the caterpillars individually to ascertain which ones have begun to transformr. The number of days the caterpillars take to transform from the beginning of the chrysalis into a butterfly is observed and recorded.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
1 day to prepare, 9 days for the science project experiment
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns: