French artist Hubert Duprat collaborates with common caddisfly larvae to create intricately designed, one-of-a-kind jewelry masterpieces. Yes, really.
The bizarre working relationship is based on the moth-like creature's natural tendency to construct elaborate armors for itself from tiny items it scavenges from its habitat – freshwater stream beds. These items typically include gravel, twigs, plant material, rocks and sand.
The larvae glue the elements into intricate tubes using excreted silk and enter their new fortresses prior to pupation (the transformation stage between larva and adult). When secured in the structure, they are less likely to be consumed by fish and other predators.
Duprat surmised that if he deprived the caddisfly larvae of their natural materials and replaced them with elaborate and more ornate items, such as gold flakes, opal, pearls, turquoise and ruby, the caddisfly larvae might adapt to the elements on hand. He was correct and the results are beautifully intricate, tube-shaped structures that can be strung like beads on a necklace.
Duprat recruits his crawling collaborators from their normal environments and takes them to his studio, where he removes their own natural cases and puts the larvae in tanks filled with his own materials.
“I am playing a bad trick on them,” Duprat told the Independent. “I feel as if I am exploiting my workers. It is their work as much as it is mine.”
The video below shows the caddisfly larvae at work in Duprat's studio.