CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – 'Caterpillars with Character' adorn the gallery space this month at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center. The artist is Jackson-native Kelly Hughes who has served as a volunteer at the center.
"Through studying and depicting the moth and butterfly larva I've gained particular nature-knowledge and as a result, I find greater appreciation as fellow occupants of this amazing world in which we live," said Hughes.
Twenty of Hughes' caterpillar illustrations are on display at the nature center, selected specifically to represent both butterflies and moths from the southeast Missouri area.
"We have extensive wildlife diversity throughout southeast Missouri and that spans into the insect world as well," said Sara Turner, nature center manager. "This exhibit display is unique because people may not realize the extent of that diversity and how even among caterpillar species, there are so many unique differences."
Hughes enjoys drawing the caterpillars because of those differences.
"I'm fascinated by the conspicuous design of these elusive creatures," she said. "The bold colors, the formidable horns and spines, and their intricate patterns are all extraordinary. Each time I come upon one of these colorful creatures in the wild, I feel I have discovered a rare treasure."
Turner said Hughes' artwork is a treasure that will grace the walls of the nature center only through the end of September.
"We hope the public will come and view her work and consider how inspirational our native insects and wildlife are," Turner said. "Enjoying the little things in nature, like caterpillars, brings to light new dimensions of the value of conservation."
For information on programs at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, go online to mdc.mo.gov/regions/southeast/cape-girardeau-conservation-nature-center.