The caterpillars are notorious for eating up plant leaves at a great speed and create nuisance for the plants as well as plants/garden owners. However some caterpillars make a unique and innovative use of the leaves of the plants they inhabit.
The caterpillars of the waterlily leaf-cutter moths fashion a special home for themselves from the lily leaves. The scientific name of this species of moth is Elophila obliteralis and these are mostly found in the eastern parts of Northern America.
The caterpillar of the Elophila species lives on waterlily plant in a pond and makes use of the thick leaf of the lily plant to form a home. First it cuts a circle around itself from the lily leaf.
The caterpillar then drags this circular piece of leaf to edge of original big leaf and then floats away on this circular part.
Then in the same way, the caterpillar cuts another lily leaf in a circle. It sandwiches itself between these two circular parts of the lily leaves. The caterpillar produces a type of silk and seals the edges of these two circular leaf parts. While living inside this sandwiched home, the caterpillar nourishes itself on the leaves of aquatic plants.
Later, it moves to the shore and lives on a plant near the shore. There, it spins a cocoon for itself . Later, when the mature moth emerges from the cocoon, it lays its eggs near the lily pond, so that the emerging caterpillar can build a floating sandwiched home for itself.
Image Courtesy with thanks: gettyimages; Bianca Lavies