New England-based naturalist, photographer, and educator Samuel Jaffe has been working with native insects since a very early age, having grown up in eastern Massachusetts chasing birds, mucking through ponds, and turning over leaves. For the last six years he has been photographing caterpillars from all over New England and organizing programs (like this photographic exhibition) to promote these special creatures. In 2013 he founded The Caterpillar Lab, based in Keene, New Hampshire, which raises thousands of caterpillars, of hundreds of species, in an open-to-the-public facility.
Viewing this exhibit based on Jaffe's work, you’ll see that there are untold stories behind every photograph. Each caterpillar's story is told within its photograph and accompanying label. Seeing caterpillars in relation to the leaves they feed upon, those leaves to the trees, and finally, those trees to the forests and fields, can change the way people understand the broader, large-scale features of the native landscape.
Why caterpillars? Caterpillars are diverse creatures that are little known and stay hidden from everyday view. They can be used to show metamorphosis, parasitism and predation, natural selection and evolution, the importance of protecting green spaces and local ecosystems, and they may also help develop a new sense of scale and time. Knowing our local caterpillars is to know a place at a new level of detail.