Manduca Caterpillar Growth Experiment

For Teachers

The topic of global climate change has undoubtedly come up in your science classroom. The temperature on Earth is always changing, and this impacts not only the weather on Earth, but the climate as well. Scientists want to know how changes in temperature will affect life on Earth. The Manduca growth experiment was developed by Arizona State University’s Ask A Biologist program and scientists in the laboratory of Dr.’s Jon Harrison and John VandenBrooks. The experiment can be used with students to assist them in uncovering how changes in temperature can affect the size and growth of organisms on Earth.

Overview and uses of the Manduca Growth Experiment:

The Manduca growth experiment is broken up into three optionsthe quick virtual lab, the full virtual lab, and the do-it-yourself lab, where you grow your own Manduca(s) at warm and/or cool temperatures. All three labs could be used within units involving Ecology and animal physiology. The lab you choose to use may in part be dependent on the amount of time you can spend on the explorations in the classroom. We also include the link to the teacher's resource packet.

Quick Lab

Quick Virtual Lab(1 class period needed): can be used by middle school or high school students as a way to quickly gather data on just one Manduca grown in each of the two different temperature settings, and offer a possible explanation for the data.

Full Lab

Full Virtual Lab(2 class periods needed): is intended to be used by high school students as an alternative to growing and measuring live Manduca in the classroom. Students will measure the mass and length of several organisms from both the warm and cool environment, generate graphs of the data, complete a statistical analysis of the data to determine significance of their results, and offer an explanation for their observations.


Do it Yourself Lab(15 min. per day for up to 35 days, and 2 full class periods needed): is intended to be used by high school students as a long-term guided inquiry experiment lasting up to 35 days. Students can explore the impact of temperature on size and growth rate by raising their own Manduca from egg to emerging moth. Students gather data on mass and length of their Manduca in both warm and cool environment, generate graphs, complete a statistical analysis of the data, and offer explanations for their observations.

For Teachers

Here is a link to the teacher’s resource packet, containing full instructions for each experiment, student handouts, a sample lesson plan, and background information to help get you started.

This section of Ask A Biologist was funded by NSF Grant Award number 0746352. Credits

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Bibliographic details:

  • Article: For Teachers
  • Author(s): Dr. Biology
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: December 28, 2016
  • Date accessed: April 13, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Dr. Biology. (2016, December 28). For Teachers. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved April 13, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Dr. Biology. "For Teachers". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 28 December, 2016.

MLA 2017 Style

Dr. Biology. "For Teachers". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 28 Dec 2016. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 13 Apr 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see

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