Who Knew Flies Could Be Such Artists?
February 24, 2013

Who Knew Flies Could Be Such Artists?

I fly fish. Every summer, my boyfriend and I pack up our Subaru Outback and head out west to New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and all states in between, from the coast to Oklahoma and Canada to Mexico for fly fishing fun. We camp and backpack and fly fish the Pacific Northwest down to the Southwest and back up again. I spend hours on rivers and in them, bunched up in my waders with my fly vest and rod (not a pole—fly fisherpeople do not use poles!), diligently casting my ten and two pattern. Well, sort of ten and two.

This means that I have also looked for flies in streams and rivers from Oklahoma west to the Pacific Ocean, and one favorite fly of many fly fisherpeople is the caddis fly. Trout love them, and I fly fish in trout rivers and streams.

The caddis fly is a moth-like insect that in its larval stage spins a protective silk case incorporating the materials in its surroundings. Since they are aquatic at this stage that mostly consists of gravel, twigs, shells, grains of sand, particles of mineral or plant material, or whatever else is around the larvae.

Well, one French artist learned about the caddis fly and its ability to cocoon itself for protection and found inspiration. According to the Cabinet Magazine website, Hubert Duprat decided to collaborate with the caddis fly to create the most interesting natural art I have seen in a long time.

Duprat was born in 1957 and grew into an avid naturalist. It was only a matter of time for this French artist to collaborate with Nature and her other beings to create art concepts like no other on this planet. So here’s what he does: he collects the caddis larvae from their ecosystems and relocates them to his studio where he delicately removes their own natural cases and places them in aquaria filled with other materials including gold, semi-precious stones (such as turquoise, lapis, and coral), and precious stones (like rubies, pearls, and sapphires).

And the larvae do what larvae will do; they create new protective cases out of the gold and stones. On the Cabinet Magazine website readers can see three examples of these. In one, the larva used gold and turquoise to create a piece worth ogling. A second caddis preferred pearls with the goal, and in the third, the larva used what looks like opal, coral, and sapphire. They are simply stunning.

This artwork combines the natural with the material. We see the results of the hard-working larvae and can admire their talents. But I must say that even their natural cases made with materials from their natural environments are pretty cool. The fact the flies create such beautiful cases with semi-precious and precious stones woven in the gold really is no surprise to me.

Perhaps that is what is so awe inspiring about nature. Nature will win out no matter what. Duprat relocated the larvae and gave them other materials to create their cocoons, and the larvae did it. The art in this collaboration comes not just from the gold, turquoise, and pearls but also from the nature.

The website has a video of one of the larvae hard at work creating its case. It is really cool. Art and Nature definitely inspire one another; these caddis larvae prove that.

Image Credit: alle / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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