These structures were uncovered through our ongoing effort to identify the aquatic insects of the Pine Bush. Though strikingly reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy’s natural sculptures, albeit on a miniature scale, these are the creations of creatures completely oblivious to any notion of art. They are the cases and parts of cases of caddisfly larvae. Most caddisfly larvae live in the water and build tubular homes out of plant material, stones, sand, and other substrate materials, which they cement together with silk excreted from their salivary glands. These cases are mobile and extremely functional. They camouflage the larvae, provide protection from predators, add stability, and even aid in respiration by enhancing a larva’s ability to circulate water around its gills. These insects don’t need artistic inspiration or a concept of beauty to motivate them to build, but, luckily for us, we get to enjoy both the aesthetic appeal and practical merits of their tiny creations.
Conservation Science Technician
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