We tend to take for granted certain small things throughout our life. Humans make big buildings and huge machines. Everything we do has to be bigger and better than what came before it. We tend to relate size to power, the bigger the house the better the life. The examples of humans always wanting bigger things are too many to list. One photographer Nicky Bay decided he wanted to show the beauty and the complexity of these structures and highlight the incredible animals responsible for them. Check out these small insect structures and learn a little about the animals responsible for them.
1. Web Towers:
This intricate web tower has actually stumped scientists for a while. It was found in Peru.
The web tower had a central tower with surrounding silk lines, surrounded by an intricate silken fence. Entomologists believed it to be an egg sac of sorts.
This web tower above might be old since only the silk fence remains.
2. Poop Barricades:
This insect creates an intricate web structure and then surrounds its home with a ring of feces.
3. Cage Fortresses:
This one is extremely cool. Before the Arctiine Moth starts its pupation it removes its long hairs. They use the hairs to construct a protective cage like structures around its body. It then suspends itself from the cage.
This one shows a caterpillar with lengthy hairs that is used to construct the cage.
The cage has an open square mesh. As single strands of hair are not long enough, the caterpillar attaches the hairs end-to-end to construct the side of the cage.
The caterpillar suspends itself in the middle of the cage with silk for a good buffer from the cage surface. The mesh of curved setae (hairs) is remarkably strong, and will spring back into shape when pressure is exerted by probing predators on it while leaving the pupa safe and sound.
This pupa is almost ready to emerge, with the eyes, antennae and wings already visible. Interestingly, while the actual emergence has never been recorded in video, the pupa is able to exit the cage before emergence as the shell has always been found outside the cage. It appears that the 2 sharper ends of the cage are not woven together, and allows for a one-directional exit for the pupa.
Despite the strong physical properties of the cage, it is not fully protected against other predators, especially parasitoids which can lay eggs into the caterpillars in the larval stage before the cage is built. Some parasitoids lay eggs in the foliage in hope that they would be consumed by caterpillars which will act as their hosts.
4. Jungle Tents:
Some insects create tiny jungle tents from tiny scraps of leaves.
Some definitely don’t look as nice as others.
Covered by layers of silk, we can see a bit of what looked like the larva beneath the tent. This could also be the leftover case of an emerged bagworm moth.
Some tents are highly elongated, much like the Eiffel Tower. In some parts of the world, they called this the jungle pagoda.
While female bagworms never leave their constructed cases, the males will eventually emerge as adult moths through the tip of the casing.
5. Log Cabins:
The Bagworm Moth Caterpillar is an amazing architect. It takes little twigs and tiny sticks and will actually saw them into smaller pieces. They will then erects these branch houses to live in.
Surprisingly , the stacked spiral is done so neatly that it looks almost man-made and resembles a log cabin. This is the same log cabin as above, and there is no discernable difference when viewed from other angles.
Some of them turn into these bundle of sticks that protrude out from a leaf or branch for protection.
Some, however, appear to be laid out lazily on a branch. Perhaps this one was in the process of “upgrading” its log cabin?
The symmetry does not seem to be practised by all specimens. This one appeared to be stacked haphazardly, but there is still an obvious progression of thickness of the “logs”.
This one above had an exceptionally long base log. Is it possible that it was in the process of “sawing” it off to the right length?
Bagworms can be subjected to parasitoids too. Some tachinids may lay their eggs in the psychid larvae, and take over the host when the log cabin is built.
More Info: Nicky Bay
These little architects are really something. Animals so small are moving many times their weight and constructing things in a way that it took humans thousands of years to learn. That is pretty darn impressive if you ask me. What is really puzzling about these tiny structures is that we still don’t know what kinds of animals constructed many of them. There is still so much we don’t know about the animal kingdom in our world. Making discoveries such as these only add the excitement of what we might find next. We may end up finding animals that have architectural skills that rival humans! Wouldn’t that be something.