While collaborations between artists are commonplace, to think of an artist working alongside insects is truly bizarre…except if your name is Herbert Duprat. The French artist knew of caddis flies and their larvae from an early age, but it wasn’t until he was about twenty that he considered using them to create art. Now, Duprat “collaborates” with the caddis fly larvae to create striking jewelry and art pieces, blending the lines between man, nature, and artistic intention.
After observing prospectors panning for gold in southwestern France in the 1980’s, Duprat began incorporating caddis fly larvae into his artistic process. Caddis flies are moth-like insects that live near streams, ponds, and rivers. Caddis fly larvae grow exclusively in the water, where they protect their bodies by creating cases, or sheaths, spun from silk excreted by salivary glands near the mouth.
Caddis fly larvae also implement additional substances into their case, such as grains of sand, minerals, twigs, bits of crustacean shell, or other materials found in their habitat. Once the larvae are fully developed, the pupal caddis chew through their sheath, swim to the surface of the water, and emerge as adult caddis flies.