CATERPILLAR OF THE WEEK: The little-known and yet unmistakable Straight-lined Looper (Pseudeva purpurigera).
This was the caterpillar that started me down the road to founding The Caterpillar Lab. Early on in my caterpillar career, a friend brought me a very strange, ridge-backed caterpillar they found crawling across a stone wall. It was an ID mystery, and despite hours of searching online I could not place it to species. I grabbed my point-and-shoot camera, snapped my first-ever caterpillar photographs, and sent them off to David Wagner, author of "Caterpillars of Eastern North America." Dave, a caterpillar biologist and taxonomist at University of Connecticut, responded to my query, identifying the caterpillar as a Straight-Lined Looper. He has been a supporter of The Caterpillar Lab's work ever since.
Since that first experience with Pseudeva, I learned that the species feeds on meadow rue. It can be common on tall meadow rue growing along roadsides or river banks in spring. I often find them feasting on the flowers just as they begin to bloom. Every year, I raise Straight-lined Loopers and discover something new about them. One of the joys of rearing a little-know species is to witness a behavior or trait that no one else has ever seen before! I plan to write up a complete life history for them in the future.
- Sam Jaffe
Each week (or at least SOME weeks!) The Caterpillar Lab features a "Caterpillar of the Week." Each featured caterpillar is a species we've raised at our lab in Keene, NH. We hope you enjoy meeting the caterpillars of New England!