Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 1:20 EDT
Caddisfly Larva Image 3
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Caddisfly Larva (Image 3)

July 30, 2010
This picture from a scanning electron microscope, magnified 100 times, shows a mesh of wet adhesive silk ribbon produced by a caddisfly larva to stitch together the inside of its shelter case that was made with glass beads it was given in a laboratory aquarium.

Russell Stewart, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah, is principal investigator of a study on the chemical and structural properties of caddisfly silk that was funded by the National Science Foundation (grant DMR 09-06014). He has characterized the caddisfly's wet adhesive silk and hopes to develop a synthetic version that could be used as a surgical adhesive in surgery.

Working in his lab, Stewart, who studied the caddisfly species B. echo from the lower Provo River, Utah, discovered that caddisfly adhesive can bond to a wide range of surfaces underwater, including hard and soft and organic and inorganic. Such adhesion could be used on a wide range of tissue types in the medical field.