Chance for Vt. kids to see caterpillars up close - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Chance for Vt. kids to see caterpillars up close

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"Some of the weirdest, biggest, creepiest, crawliest, spiniest, most bizarre-looking caterpillars that you never knew were just living in your own backyard," said Larry Clarfeld of the North Branch Nature Center.

In your backyard and at North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier, where you can find caterpillars on leaves, in terrariums and even the occasional escapee scooting down a tablecloth.

This is what Larry Clarfeld calls caterpillar-wrangling-- keeping track of the squirmy species he studies, like the black swallowtail.

"We have over a thousand different types of moths and more than 100 different types of butterflies, and each has its own unique caterpillar," Clarfeld said.

Now, these are only the local stars of the show. On Saturday, they're getting ready to host some impressive out-of-town visitors.

"The largest of the caterpillars are probably going to be four to 6 inches long, and like I said, they're very easy to handle," Clarfeld said.

It's the first ever live caterpillar show in Vermont, showcasing more than 50 different caterpillars from around New England. Caterpillar expert Sam Jaffe-- one of Clarfeld's former classmates-- will be teaching kids and adults about the strange-looking insects they can find in our region.

"Well, there are so many. And they're so bizarre. Basically your imagination is the limits for what caterpillars can do," Clarfeld said. "There's one called the Harris's Three Spot that every time it grows bigger and sheds its skin, it will save the old skin of its head and wear it around like a hat. And each time it sheds, it adds a new old head to its hat until at the end it's walking around with several old heads on top of its real head."

Just one of many creepy crawlies soon to take center leaf in Vermont.

Clarfeld says there will also be arts and crafts, microscopes to view the caterpillars up close, and walks for people to learn how to spot them. The show is this Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the North Branch Nature Center and costs anywhere from $3 to $5.

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