John Janovy, Keith County journal, New York, St Martin’s Press, 1996, p. 105-106.
One has to visualize the life of these insects beneath the rushing-hard color of Whitetail three : some kind of food was coming down that creek in large amounts, at a very rapid rate, and was being trapped by these larvae. My mind goes back to the branches beneath Whitetail three. There were not really that many, about one submerged limb every ten yards, but there were many twigs and lesser branches along the banks, dangling and submerged, also covered with caddis flies. The animals had obviously taken up all the available space on those twigs ranging from one the size of a pin to one the size of a railroad tie supporting the bridge. The fact of these flies’ dependence on twigs for home-sites was impressive only until one looked at the larvae with a hand lens. Each larva lived in a house, constructed by itself. Each larva’s house was to the untrained eye so similar as to be identical to every other larva’s house, the detailed architecture and accoutrements of each house built according to the same set of blue-prints, and each not only fastened to twigs but made of twigs. One sensed no colony of caddis flies, as one senses a colony of cliff swallows, but rather sensed a set of instruction within each fly larva that chose twigs to build a house, arranged and glued those twigs in an identifiable pattern, and finished the job by adding exactly two much longer twigs, so that the final house resembled a tube with runners. As if that were not enough, they came in all sizes, all built according to the same exact plan. My experience in this country is continually that of standing in some body by what has just been seen, mind racing to figure a way to tell the world this exists, and better judgement reminding me of my basic ignorance of the very things I must tell about.
I didn’t know what kind of caddis fly builds this type of house, but I would go to the litterature and find out, only to discover that my original thoughts about caddis flies were pretty simple and uneducated. Whitetail three is a pretty simple place for caddis fly larvae, and the things they do with twigs in Whitetail three is but a fraction of what do with other building materials elsewhere.
The caddis fly story does have an and. Neither Whitetail nor the literature contains a species of caddis fly with the exclusive species character of building its house out of other caddis fly larval cases. There are those in the literature, however, that build their house out of snail shells. No, they don’t expropriate the shells, moving Inside them like a hermit crab. They glue the shells together to form a tube, then live Inside the tube. Architects upon architects. Architects are appropriate companions for beautiful women at their best for company.