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Witness the Double-Toothed Prominent (Nerice bidentata), in all its leaf-edge-mimicking glory!

Not surprisingly, Double-Toothed Prominents are a favorite around here. We love how accurately their double-toothed backs imitate the double-toothed elm leaves on which they live and feed. We love searching for them on little sunburnt elm trees along roadsides. We love their scientific name, Nerice bidentata, which has inspired us to nickname them “crazy old Nerice,” a deeply obscure reference to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Today, we discovered another reason to love the Double-Toothed Prominent: a delightful old article describing the species. In June 1892, Caroline G. Soule’s “The Early Stages of Nerice Bidentata” was published in the Cambride Entomological Club journal, Psyche. In her nine succinct paragraphs, Soule made me feel as if I’d never really even looked at the Double-Toothed Prominent. She’s meticulously descriptive:

“Aug. 23. 3d moult. 5/8in. long. Head large, round, bilobed, smooth, green with dark face lines… 4th segment had a double dorsal hump, tipped with brown; 5th, a much larger double hump, yellow green, tipped with brown, the brown extending down the front and back like a dorsal line lifted by the hump! 6th to 10th segments had similar humps, but smaller, like that on 4th… Spiracles, heretofore unnoticeable, green with a brown line on each side, and from them spread white lines like veins, distinct on the green sides of the larva.”

She also must have spent a great deal of time observing the creature’s behavior, not just its appearance:

“Sept. 8th. … The pupa was very active, rolling a foot or more at a time. “

Interestingly, Caroline Soule lived in Brookline, Massachusetts, just a few miles from where our Executive Director Sam Jaffe was born and raised. Caterpillar love and keen observation skills must be in the water down there!

- Liz Kautz TCL Education Director

Psyche is an open-access journal that’s been in publication since 1874. You can read Caroline Soule’s full article on Pysche’s website here: (just click “Full-Text PDF" on the right).

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!

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