In its ongoing mission to cultivate curiosity, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens will host educator and nature photographer Samuel Jaffe and The Caterpillar Lab July 25-29. Jaffe, who has been raising caterpillars since childhood, has spent years educating the public about the importance of, in his words, “the little monsters living unseen around us that seem effortlessly to reveal to people the value of the natural spaces around them.”
The nonprofit learning facility The Caterpillar Lab is a functioning caterpillar-rearing, researching, photographing, filming, and educating facility. The lab, housed in Marlborough, N.H., aims to “foster greater appreciation and care for the complexity and beauty of our local natural history through live caterpillar educational programs, research initiatives, and photography and film projects.” Jaffe’s philosophy is that “an increased awareness of the local environment is the foundation on which healthy and responsible attitudes toward the broader natural systems of this world are built.”
Jaffe’s infectious passion for the natural world will find itself in good company at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. “The Caterpillar Lab is all about finding wonder in the unexpected,” Jaffe said. Accessibility to caterpillars is what makes the lab residency at the gardens an exciting and thoroughly unique family-friendly event, encouraging independent thought and empowering discovery.
The residency, free with gardens admission, invites children and adults alike to visit the lab-in-residence, see live caterpillar displays, take part in innovative programming, and witness how The Caterpillar Lab cares for and works with its dozens of species of caterpillars. The residency allows visitors of all ages not only to witness moments of metamorphosis playing out firsthand, both at the display tables and under digital microscopes, but to learn about caterpillar rearing tools, gather host plants with lab staff, and become involved in the day-to-day running of the lab.
The Caterpillar Lab’s in-residence exhibit can be anything from a casual drop-in exploration lasting a few minutes to a more in-depth experience spanning several hours. Visitors can photograph the caterpillars, discuss gardening for insects with staff, observe countless species, open up cocoons, or choose one of the many planned activities taking place during the week, such as moth lighting, caterpillar walks, and natural history talks. For more information regarding all of the week’s activities, visit mainegardens.org.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a nationally recognized public garden located in Boothbay. The mission of the gardens is to inspire meaningful connections among people, plants, and nature through horticulture, education, and research. Its annual visitation includes guests from all 50 states and 65 foreign countries.