Caddis fly larvae usually form their protective sheaths by spinning silk with sand, minerals, plant particles, and bits of bone they find in their aquatic environments. French artist Hubert Duprat collects the larvae, carefully strips their shells, and then puts them in aquaria filled with stuff like pearls, rubies, gold, and diamonds. The larvae make new coverings out of these materials.
Duprat traces his work with the caddis fly larvae back to pioneering nineteenth-century entomologists such as François-Jules Pictet and Jean-Henri Fabre, who both conducted experiments in which structure-building insects were given alternative, non-indigenous materials. Seen within the context of the artist's work–a practice that has often addressed aspects of mimesis in the realms of both nature and facture through his conceptual sculptural activities–the caddis fly larvae project is an example of Duprat's ongoing interest in productive collisions between organic forms and technologized materials.