Center for Northern
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Richard G. Carbonetti
Wood Creek Capital Management
Starling Childs MFS
Ecological and Environmental
David J. Colligan
Colligan Law, LLP
Fernwood Consulting, LLC
Holiday Brook Farm
Julia S. Emlen Associates
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
Montpelier, V T
Dartmouth Medical School
The Center for Northern Woodlands
Education, Inc., is a 501(c)( 3) public
benefit educational organization.
Programs include Northern Woodlands
magazine, Northern Woodlands Goes
to School, The Outside Story, The
Place You Call Home series, and
from the enter
On summer evenings, Sam Jaffe has a tendency to loiter in gas station
parking lots. This behavior has resulted in a continued acquaintance
with the local police. Fortunately, he has the perfect accessory to dispel
law enforcement concerns: a butterfly net.
“As long as I have my net, I’m O.K.”
Jaffe is the founder and executive director of The Caterpillar
Lab, an educational nonprofit based in Keene, New Hampshire.
The organization hosts a warm-weather zoo of approximately 100
native caterpillar species, which is why Jaffe can be found hunting
female moths under high-intensity lights at gas stations. And in his backyard, where
he makes “lunar landing sites” with white sheets and mercury vapor lights. He collects
the moths’ eggs and releases them the next evening. When the eggs hatch, he’ll have
another batch of caterpillars to stock exhibits.
Jaffe and his crew collect most of their specimens in or nearby Keene. By focusing
on such a small geographic area, The Caterpillar Lab emphasizes the incredible diver-
sity of moth and butterfly life in the region – most of it overlooked. Take, for example,
the Abbot’s sphinx caterpillar, a species that sports a convincing false eye and emits a
hissing noise. “It’s a spectacular, tropical-looking insect,” said Jaffe. “People say, ‘wait a
minute, we don’t have that in New England!’”
Parasitoid wasps and flies are also a big part of caterpillar life, and Jaffe doesn’t
shy away from their grisly work. An exhibit may show a caterpillar erupting with
ichneumon wasp larvae, or one that contains “swimming larvae of a tachnid fly, look-
ing excited to come out.”
O.K., that makes me queasy. But in any event, I’m delighted to announce that
The Caterpillar Lab will be featured at the 2016 Northern Woodlands Conference.
This third annual event will take place the last weekend in September – registration
Sponsored by The Bailey Charitable Foundation and The Trust for Public Land, the
conference includes a fun mashup of topics, reflecting the breadth of content covered
in Northern Woodlands magazine. There are writing workshops, readings, and a nature
illustration class. Authors Rick Bass and Jeffrey Lent will both be there, as well as poet
Verandah Porche. Richard Ober is giving this year’s keynote address.
Susan Morse will give a fun presentation on scent marking. There’ll be a dynamic
outdoor educator workshop. We’ll have talks on loons, ice storms, and eagles. Northern
Woodlands co-founder and former publisher Stephen Long will discuss his book on
the ’ 38 hurricane. Logger and soon-to-be published author Bill Torrey will share some
stories at open mic night, and we hope you will, too.
And there will be caterpillars. A room full of caterpillars. Caterpillars that look like
fungus, or chewed up leaves. Even a monkey slug caterpillar, which resembles a hairy
For a full schedule of the conference, please visit northernwoodlands.org, or call
for information. And if you’d like to learn more about The Caterpillar Lab, check out
Elise Tillinghast, Executive Director, Publisher
The mission of the Center for Northern Woodlands Education is to advance a culture of forest
stewardship in the Northeast and to increase understanding of and appreciation for the natural
wonders, economic productivity, and ecological integrity of the region’s forests.