This week's Caterpillar of the Week: The aptly named "Filament Bearer" - Nematocampa resistaria.
About a year ago, the internet went crazy over a video of a strange and tropical caterpillar from the depths of uncharted Amazonia. This caterpillar, with bizarre hydraulic tentacles that expand and contract, was presented as evidence for the incredible diversity and overall strangeness of the creatures lurking in our planet's hard-to-reach and unexplored regions. Well...
The caterpillar that gained so much attention was a close relative, and exact lookalike, of a common New England caterpillar that can be found in backyards and green spaces throughout the region. This fact makes the filament bearer caterpillar no less strange, no less exotic, and no less of a fine example of some of the novel and unexpected creatures that inhabit this world with us. But it does change the moral of the story.
The tropics and other faraway places are full of diversity and wonder--but do not make the mistake of closing your eyes to what's just outside your back door. More often than not, the stories of our backyard creatures are every bit as fantastic and unexpected as those of other creatures, to which we have little access. Much of the opportunity and interest that the natural world provides really just depends on how closely we look at the world right around us.
- 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!