The Caterpillar Lab works with native New England caterpillars as a resource to use in the various pursuits of art, education, science, and natural history.
Through photography and live animal educational programing we wish to share our love of these amazing creatures. We hope that by sharing we may inspire others to become more deeply involved with the natural history of our homes and open spaces.
At the lab facility we care for thousands of caterpillars, study and photograph their life histories, and prepare displays to use at our museum events and programs. We work with local teachers to help them bring caterpillars into the classroom, and act as a support for anybody wanting to work with these compelling creatures
Director of The Caterpillar Lab, Sam Jaffe, has worked with caterpillars all his life and believes that caterpillars are especially well suited for use in natural history education.
Caterpillars are fantastical creatures that keep hidden from everyday view. They are easily overlooked and this makes caterpillars excellent teaching tools – people are surprised and intrigued by these previously unknown organisms and are pulled into learning experiences by a natural curiosity that we all share. In city or suburb, in the northeast or the southwest, caterpillars are present in a tremendous diversity and many people are inspired that these organisms can be found “in their own backyards.”
Further, caterpillar’s lives are shorter and busier than other organisms that are used in live-animal programming. Over the course of a day-long program, visitors get the chance to witness caterpillars eating, shedding, hatching from eggs, defending themselves, and to see other dramatic events like the emergence of parasitoid wasps and the construction of complex cocoons. Almost anything can happen at the display tables!
Caterpillars offer a tremendously varied landscape of possible teaching moments. They can be used to demonstrate change, growth and metamorphosis, parasitism and predation, natural selection and evolution, the value of protecting green spaces and local ecosystems, and they may help learners develop a new sense of scale, time, and place.
To learn more about us please visit our websites!
The Caterpillar Lab has a facebook page at www.facebook.com/thecaterpillarlab
Artist Samuel Jaffe has a website at www.thecaterpillarlab.org