The Caterpillar Lab fosters greater appreciation and care for the complexity and beauty of our local natural history through live caterpillar educational programs, research initiatives, and photography and film projects. We believe that an increased awareness of one’s local environment is the foundation on which healthy and responsible attitudes towards the broader natural systems of this world is built.

© 2015 CATERPILLAR LAB INC.  With original artwork by Heather Reid and Samuel Jaffe

 

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THE LIFE OF A PARASITOID FLY

March 5, 2017

 


(Make sure you get to the time-lapse in this video!)

There is so much diversity and intrigue to be discovered just beneath the surface of the world we casually observe each day. Look increasingly closer and there is no end to what may be uncovered. Finding a caterpillar beneath a leaf is only ever the start of a much larger and more complex story. The caterpillar also represents a journey through time, growing and changing, becoming a pupa, then an adult moth. Or perhaps the narrative is full of more twists, perverted with other, as yet unseen, cycles of metamorphosis. The caterpillar. The fly. The wasp.

 

Here we follow the story of a native parasitoid tachinid fly as it travels through the body of an unfortunate cecropia giant silk moth caterpillar. We have moved beneath the skin of the caterpillar and could move ever closer still. There are creatures within creatures here, stories within stories, nested like Russian dolls. The biology of these insects may strike us as gruesome, but they act as a suburb reminder that there is always, always, more to see, and reason to slow down, get close, be patient, and uncover the nature of the universe – from parasitoid interactions to the forces between atoms.

 

Think of something you encounter on a daily basis. The birds at your bird feeder. A plant leafing out in your garden. A mosquito bite. A bowl of cereal. What new, exciting, beautiful, or perhaps gruesome things might be waiting for us under the skin of these encounters if we care to look?

 

- Sam
TCL Director

 

 

 

 

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