Live Caterpillar Show Coming to Tower Hill Botanic Garden
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Summer is a time when amazing creatures of nature visit our backyard: hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, you name it. But if you take a closer look, you may also find the master of disguise, caterpillars, living on one of your plants.
Samuel Jaffe, life-long naturalist, trained biologist, photographer and passionate educator, brings his "Caterpillars of Massachusetts" show to Tower Hill Botanic Garden on Sunday, August 25th, to provide a unique experience to those who want to get an up close and personal look at these bizarre yet fascinating garden visitors.
Jaffe, 30, is from Newton, Mass., and he earned a biology degree from Brown University, and then worked on a study at Harvard University that examined interactions between ants and caterpillars. He's now an environmental education major at Antioch University New England.
Jaffe first started taking photos of native New England caterpillars in 2008.
"I did not imagine at the time the power that these images would have to open people's eyes to the wonders of their own back yards," says Jaffe, "but after my first exhibit it was clear that caterpillars were special."
As Jaffe put it, he started his journey of exploring these bizarre native beauties and soon realized that photography alone was not sufficient in demonstrating caterpillars' charisma. Jaffe then organized his first caterpillar show and that's when the Caterpillar Project was born.
Touring New England
This summer, as part of the Caterpillar Project, Jaffe is touring around New England with native live caterpillars and his photo gallery. With magnifying glasses provided, the show offers a special glimpse into the varied and dynamic world of these wonderful caterpillars which each have their unique way of disguising and defending themselves in natural surroundings. The show will also reveal the secrets of caterpillars: why they are called the "eating machines," how they breathe and sense, and most fascinating, their art of survival.
These lowly, wingless caterpillars are not just like any other vulnerable worm; they are much more sinister! Caterpillars are the master of disguise. The Abbott's Sphinx caterpillar sports a camouflage of brown skin with green dots that run along its body, making it look just like its host plant -the Grapevine. And you could hardly spot the Oak Beauty caterpillars in the woods because they mimic a twig so cleverly that there's barely any contrast between the caterpillar and the wood. But hiding is not always the best way to survive form predators. They also develop some dazzling moves for their own protection. The Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar can perform an impressive snake mimic. And the White Furcula caterpillar, when disturbed, will inflate its two tail-looking, modified rear pro-legs and whip these ridiculous tassels over and around itself.
Shake off your old impression of caterpillars if you've ever thought they are disgusting and scary. These are actually awesome and fascinating creatures once you learn more about their secretive life. Join Jaffe at Tower Hill on August 25, and get ready to fall in love with the beauty of caterpillars.
The Live Caterpillar Show is included with regular Garden admission: $12 Adults, $9 Seniors (65+), $7 Youth (6-18), and FREE for Tower Hill Members and Children under 6. WOO Card holders earn points and gain discounted admission. The Garden is located at 11 French Drive, Boylston, Massachusetts, exit 24 off Route 290. For details and directions, call 508-869-6111 or visit the Garden's website at www.towerhillbg.org.
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