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Pygmy Leafminer

Pygmy Leafminer, Stigmella quercipulchella, eating its way through a late season oak leaf and then emerging at The Caterpillar Lab.

Time for a trip down memory lane. I will be posting the best videos from our 2016 season over the next few weeks. Did you have a favorite? Did any of our videos surprise you? Delight you? Disgust you? Convince you there was more to learn about caterpillars than you thought? Feel free to ask us questions, comment, or share these. Enjoy!

"WHAT IF your entire universe was bound between the top and bottom surfaces of a single leaf? This is the reality of New England's smallest caterpillars, the pygmy leafmining moths of the family Nepticulidae.

This oak-feeding pygmy leafminer, Stigmella quercipulchella, travels through a fall-time red oak leaf while feeding and then cuts the leaf and emerges. Have you seen leaf miners, blotch-makers, and skeletonizers before? There are around 2,000 species of leaf mining moths in North America, many are still waiting to be assigned names, and new species are being discovered as we investigate their caterpillar's specific ties to host plants and the way in which they construct their mines.

The trees of the forest, the leaves on the trees, the caterpillars within the leaves -- living, growing, struggling to survive. The complexity and beauty of the natural world only increases as we shift perspectives and adjust our sense of scale. Working on this video I enjoyed imagining all the tiny spaces that are almost too small for us to perceive, but that provide so much for the smallest of our neighborhood insects."

This was our first attempt at a leafminer time lapse film and we were very happy with the results. Expect many, many more in 2017!

- Sam TCL Director

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