Mar 20, 2013

The Ornate Protective Cases of Caddisfly Larvae


Photograph by Bob Henricks


Caddisflies are an order (Trichoptera) of insects with approximately 12,000 described species. They can be described as small moth-like insects with two pairs of hairs membranous wings. One of the most interesting characteristics of the caddisfly is the ornate and highly intricate protective cases they build as larvae.

The caddisfly larvae is aquatic and can be found in a variety of habitats such as streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, springs and even temporary waters. The larvae collects whatever material it can to form its protective case, bonding the various materials together with silk that it excretes from its salivary glands near its mouth. [Source]

Different species of caddisfly tend to use different materials for their protective cases making for a diverse array of cases. Artists have even taken it a step further, cultivating their own cadisfly and providing them with unique building materials like gold and pearls to create ornate protective cases that are preserved for their artistic merit after the cadisfly has undergone metamorphosis.

Below you will find a gallery of unique protective case designs as well as some artistic examples from cultivated caddisfly.


Case-building caddisfly larva (Trichoptera)




Photograph by Bob Henricks



Caddisfly larva
Photograph by Cheryl Rose



Caddisfly Larvae Art by Hubert Duprat

Since the early 1980s, French artist Hubert Duprat has been utilizing insects to construct some of his ‘sculptures’. By removing caddisfly larvae from their natural habitat and providing them with precious materials like beads, pearls and gold in his own aquarium; he prompts them to manufacture cases that resemble jewelers’ creations. There is an extensive interview between Hubert Duprat and Christian Besson regarding this entire concept. If you’re interested in this artwork I recommend you check it out at



Artwork by Hubert Duprat/Caddisfly Larvae




Artwork by Hubert Duprat/Caddisfly Larvae




Artwork by Hubert Duprat/Caddisfly Larvae




Artwork by Hubert Duprat/Caddisfly Larvae




Artwork by Hubert Duprat/Caddisfly Larvae





caddisfly larva
Photograph by heatherkh on Flickr




Photograph by Kristian Peters | Fabelfroh on Wikimedia Commons




Photograph by Ashley Pond V



Case-building caddisfly larva (Trichoptera)



Caddisfly Larvae

Photograph by Octodrone on Flickr




Photograph by Matt Reinbold





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