The caterpillarCaloptilia serotinella generates the force required to roll leaves by stretching the silk strands it fixes between opposable plant surfaces. The Young's modulus of strands drawn by caterpillars at an average rate of 16 mm s−1 was 1.1×108 N m−2. Single strands stretched in a tensiometer had a final Young's modulus of 1.4×109 N m−2 and withstood a maximum force of 60 × 10−5 N (i.e., a 60-mg force) before breaking at 30% extension. Strands stretched approximately 14% beyond their equilibrium length by rolling caterpillars exerted an average axially retractive force of 3.2×10−5 N and drew the leaf 7×10−3 mm into the roll. During episodes of rolling, the caterpillars spun hundreds of strands capable of generating a collective force in excess of 0.1 N. Potential forces associated with wet contraction of strands were not harnessed by the caterpillar when rolling but subsequent supercontraction of the strands caused them to bind the roll tightly. Caterpillars appeared to facilitate leaf rolling by weakening the midrib with their mandibles.