An artist has coaxed insects into make sheaths out of gold, opal and other precious materials.
The tiny jewellers are aquatic caddis fly larvae, which use materials at hand in the wild. French artist Hubert Duprat told Cabinet Magazine that he has been working with the insect since the early 80s.
Other precious materials that Duprat has made available to the bugs are turquoise, opals, lapis lazuli, coral, pearls, rubies, sapphires and diamonds. The bugs are picky and don't incorporate all the materials available.
The publication says that the work expresses ". . . Duprat's ongoing interest in productive collisions between organic forms and technologized materials."
A small winged insect belonging to the order Trichoptera and closely related to the butterfly, caddis flies live near streams and ponds and produce aquatic larvae that protect their developing bodies by manufacturing sheaths, or cases, spun from silk and incorporating substances—grains of sand, particles of mineral or plant material, bits of fish bone or crustacean shell—readily available in their benthic ecosystem. The larvae are remarkably adaptable: if other suitable materials are introduced into their environment, they will often incorporate those as well.
Duprat, who was born in 1957, began working with caddis fly larvae in the early 1980s. An avid naturalist since childhood, he was aware of the caddis fly in its role as a favored bait for trout fishermen, but his idea for the project depicted here began, he has said, after observing prospectors panning for gold in the Ariège river in southwestern France.
Hat tip Boing Boing