Caterpillar When I first met Dr Marc Epstein, an entomologist specializing in Lepidoptera, at the Smithsonian Museum back around 1999, he asked me if I would ever be doing images of caterpillars. My quick response was no. How could I ever start doing that since there were so many adult moths on which to focus? He replied that they were pretty amazing as well and I should consider it. Through much encouragement from the scientific community I finally started. One of the ways to acquire perfect adult moth specimens was to rear them from the eggs of captured females or from caterpillars collected in the wild. So thus began the task of learning the real life histories of the moths that I was imaging. Rearing and photographing the caterpillars was at first, and still is, by trial by error.
Some species are quite easy to handle while other species are nearly impossible. I started out by building rearing cages that I still use today. Another technique consists of making fabric sleeves that placed on branches out in the field. Finding the correct host plant is always a necessity. Some of the caterpillars in this book are local species from the area of upstate New York where I live. The majority comes from three years of collecting campaigns in Sonora Mexico between the summer 2009 and August 2011. I collected some in the wild and brought them back to the studio to photograph while I photographed others on location. I reared many of them either in the studio or in sleeves on branches in the wild at locations in the Sierra Madres.
Since my return from Mexico, I have been continuing to rear species of both local New York and Sonoran moths in my studio.