Maria Sibylla Merian, a German artist and naturalist, was born into a prominent Frankfurt family of artists and publishers. From an early age she was interested in the study of insects, especially the silkworm. After moving to the Netherlands, Merian became acquainted with various artists and scientists. From 1699 to 1701, Merian visited the Dutch colony of Suriname in South America. Her drawings were the basis for engravings such as this one, part of a work containing sixty large-scale, delicate, hand-colored engravings of plants and insects.