Wonders on wonders!

Anonyme, Charlie’s Discoveries or A Good use for Eyes and Ears, Londres, Harvey and Darton, 1839, p. 26-29

The Caddis-Worm, and the Oak –Apples.

Immediately on his liberation from the tea-table,Charles hastened to provide better accommodation for his captive in the grotto ; and then brought it to his Mamma, requesting an account of its name, and history.

« Wonders on wonders ! Charlie, » said Mr. Graham ; « I think Mamma will become a famous story-teller, if you give her so much practice. »

« This ingenious little insect, my dear body, » began Mrs Graham, «  is commonly called the Caddis-worm. Does it not remind you very much of a hermit, living all alone in this manner ?

If you examine the head and shoulders, (which are frequently protruded in search of food,) you will see that they are hard, and rather horny ; while the other part of the body, which is protected from danger, is soft, like a caterpillar. The construction of its case is most remarkable ; for although it is composed of stones, and shells, of different shapes, and sizes, yet they are so carefully joined, that the interior is perfectly smooth ; as is also the under side of the case, in order that the inhabitant may drag it easily along the bottom of the brook where it lives ; which, you know, would be very difficult if any angles, or rough points, were in the way. I do not wonder that you are astonished, Charlie, to see and hear of the ingenuity of these little insignificant worms ; but the meaner the instrument appears, the more praises are due to Him, who has endowed even the smallest works of His hand with such marvellous instinct. »

« Does the Caddis-worm always build with shells and stones, Mamma ? »

« No, my dear ; one uses pieces of reed-straw, or wood, cut to the proper length, and carefully joined and cemented together ; frequently finishing the whole, by adding a piece longer than the rest, to serve as a shelter for his head, that hem ay be more secure from observation. »

« How droll, » said Charles. « Then he can pop his head out, and eat, and look about him, and nobody be any the wiser ; I should like to have a peep at the cunning fellow. But do tell me more about their different ways of building, please, Mamma. »

« There is another Caddis-worm, which bestows much labour on his domicile : he weaves together the leaves of an aquatic plant into an oval ball ; and in the centre of this forms his cell.