Entomological studies of Maria Sibylla Merian
The phrase “wondrous transformation of caterpillars,” which Merian employed in her early book titles, begins in all lepidopterans with the change from larval into the pupal stage. Within this small capsule, the final metamorphosis into the adult stage occurs, a process that is still not fully understood. In addition to portraying the color, form, texture, and other physical traits of pupae, Merian described the timing of pupation for each species of moth or butterfly and where she found them. The variety in pupae can be astounding, and she was the first to represent such a wide range, doing so for almost three hundred species of insects from both Europe and Suriname. Herein we will discuss Merian’s description and depiction of a variety of pupal types, the earliest and most wide-ranging investigation of its type.