For the fourth year, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens will host educator and nature photographer Samuel Jaffe and The Caterpillar Lab, Aug. 19 to 27 (with a break on Monday, Aug. 23). A perennial favorite, this exhibit will highlight the diversity and ingenuity of some of New England’s most unusual caterpillars.
The Caterpillar Lab is known for its over-the-top, up-close native caterpillar exploration experiences. Visitors, even those familiar with their own backyard wildlife, will meet many dozens of species, all showcased in open-air displays.
The exhibit includes giant silk moth caterpillars, snake-mimicking caterpillars, twig-like caterpillars, and bizarre legless slug caterpillars. Guests can witness metamorphosis, ecological relationships, and even parasitism, all playing out first-hand at display tables and under digital microscopes. The lab’s experts will be available for those who wish to learn even more.
A nonprofit learning facility, The Caterpillar Lab is a caterpillar-rearing, researching, photographing, filming, and educating facility. Director Jaffe’s passion for the natural world finds itself in good company at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Accessibility to caterpillars is what makes the lab’s residency at the gardens a unique and family-friendly event, encouraging independent thought and empowering discovery.
“We really love the work Sam Jaffe and The Lab do. It aligns with our mission, and it’s such an unforgettable experience for anyone of any age, from young children to seasoned biologists,” Daniel Ungier, CMBG’s vice president of guest experience and education, said in a news release.
One such discovery adventure includes a night of moth lighting on Friday, Aug. 20, from 8 to 10:30 p.m. “Lightsheeting” or “mothing,” is the practice illuminating a large white sheet, providing a surface for insects land on.
Jaffe will arrange his moth-attracting setup and be available to help identify the hundreds of species likely to appear. The program is designed for anyone ages 10 and up, adults and families alike. Moth lighting is an event separate to the exhibit, and participants must register in advance, online, at mainegardens.org.
This year, a Caterpillar Walk will also be offered, from 4 to 5 p.m. on select days. Participants can join Jaffe on a search of the gardens for native caterpillars and other insects, discovering how these creatures live in the wild. Jaffe will outline how the lab finds its caterpillars, discuss host plants and parasitoids, and share caterpillar-finding secrets.
The Caterpillar Lab’s in-residence exhibit is a casual drop-in experience, free with admission. For more information on the lab and its accompanying events, go to mainegardens.org.