Order Trichoptera (Caddisflies)

Courtesy of the Cacapon InstituteHead has a thick hardened skin; antennae are very short, usually not visible; no wing pads occur on the thorax; top of the first thorax always has a hardened plate and in several families the second and third section of the thorax have a hardened plate; three pairs of segmented legs attach to the thorax; abdomen has a thin soft skin; single or branched gills on the abdomen in many families, but some have no visible gills; pair of prolegs with one claw on each, is situated at the end of the  abdomen; most families construct various kinds of retreats consisting of a wide variety of materials collected from the streambed.  Click-here for a guide to common families of caddisflies.  

Net-spinning caddisflies


Hydropsychidae (Common netspinner): Top of all thoracic segments hardened; most abdominal segments have tufts of finely branched gills; anal prolegs terminate into a brush of hairs. Does not make cases but instead creates a retreat (net) made of a variety of materials held together by fine strands of silk. Note: Can be green in color and look similar to free-living caddisfliesClinger/crawler; Collector/filterer; M-L (M)(F/S) [Adult]


Philopotamidae (Finger-net caddisfly): Labrum is t-shaped and membranous; head capsule large usually bright yellow or cream colored; only first thoracic segment is hardened; abdominal gills usually absent.  Builds a long tube or finger-like net. Clinger/crawler; Collector/filterer; M (L)(F) [Adult]


Polycentropodidae (Tube-net caddisfly): Labrum is rounded and hardened; only first thoracic segment is hardened; no plates or gills on the abdominal segments. Does not build cases but instead constructs a net that is often in the shape of a long tube. Clinger/crawler; Collector/filterer/predator; S-L (M)(F/S) [Adult]


Psychomiidae (Trumpet-net caddisfly): Bottom of thorax is hardened with black edges; middle thoracic segment is swollen and usually larger than the others; has an enlarged hatchet shaped leg segment on the upper legs. Thier nets are variable but most have a tube-shape.  Clinger/crawler; Collector; M (M)(F) [Adult]

Free-living caddisfly


Rhyacophilidae (Free-living or green sedge caddisfly): First thoracic segment is hardened; abdominal gills variable; hardened plate on top of abdominal segment nine; distinctive anal prolegs with large claws.  This family does not build a case or net, but often uses silk strands to attach itself to substrates. Clinger/crawler; Predator; M-L (L)(F) [Adult]

 Case-building caddisflies


Brachycentridae (Humpless-case caddisfly): Antennae close to the margins of the head capsule; first two thoracic segments with hardened plates; no humps on abdominal segments; gills simple or lacking. The case is elongated and made of strips of materials, resembles a log cabin. Clinger; Collector/gatherer/shredder; M (L)(F) [Adult]


Glossosomatidae (Saddle-case caddisfly): First thoracic segment is hardened; hardened plate on top of abdominal segments nine.  The case resembles a tortoise shell or saddle. Clinger; Scraper/shredder; VS-M (L)(F) [Adult]


Goeridae (Goerid-case caddisfly): Hardened head, yellow to reddish brown colored; large horn-like structure on the thorax.  The case is constructed with sand-grains and small pebbles, usually is slightly curved. Clinger; Scraper; VS-M (L)(F/S) [Adult]


Helicopsychidae (Snail-case caddisfly): Body is curled; all three thoracic segments are hardened; stout hairs at the end of the third thoracic segment; gills present on anterior abdominal segments.  The case resembles a snail shell. Clinger; Scraper; VS-S (L)(F)


Hydroptilidae (Purse-case caddisfly): All three of their thoracic segments have sclerotized dorsal plates; no gills on the abdomen; most commonly build cases with sand, algae, silk or detritus, but the shapes vary considerably. Clinger/crawler; Scraper; VS-S (M)(F/S) [Adult]


Lepidostomatidae (Lepidostomatid-case caddisfly): Antennae located close to the eyes; lateral hump on abdominal segment one; first two thoracic segments hardened; gills simple or lacking; hardened plate on top of abdominal segment nine.  The case is usually four-sided built with square pieces of barks and leaves. Clinger/crawler; Shredder; S-M (L)(F) [Adult]


Leptoceridae (Longhorn-case caddisfly): Antennae prominent; first two thoracic segments hardened; hind legs are usually longer than the front legs; abdominal gills variable.  The cases are built from a variety of materials and vary considerably; the most common is a stone/sand case resembling a long tube. Clinger/crawler; Collector/predator; S-M (L)(F/S) [Adult]


Limnephilidae (Northern-case caddisfly): Antennae between the eyes and the mouth; first two thoracic segments hardened; dorsal and lateral humps on first abdominal segment; hardened plate on the top of abdominal segment nine; abdominal gills variable.  The cases are built from many kinds of bottom materials and exhibit a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Clinger/crawler; Shredder; S-L (L)(F) [Adult]


Molannidae (Hooded-case caddisfly): Two-thirds of the top of the thorax is hardened; tarsal claws on the hind legs smaller than the rest and are covered with fine hairs; gills along the abdomen are simple or branched; a hardened plate sits atop abdominal segment nine.  The cases are constructed mostly with sand and pea gravel, shaped like a flattened tube with a hood that extends over the opening. Clinger/crawler; Collector/shredder; S-M (M)(S) [Adult]


Phryganeidae (Giant-case caddisfly): Head and portions of the thorax marked with prominent stripes; front part of the thorax hardened; dorsal and lateral humps on abdominal segment one; hardened plate on top of abdominal segment nine. They build elongated cases out of plant fragments. Certain genus are known to feed on amphibian egg-sacksClinger/crawler; Collector/predator; M-L (M)(S) [Adult]


Uenoidae (Uenoid-case caddisfly): The first two thoracic segments are hardened and there are some small plates present on the third; abdominal segment one has a hump, and the anterior margin of their mesonotum is notched on either side of the midline; cases are variable but usually always constructed with small stones and sand. Clinger/crawler; Scraper; S-M (L)(F) [Adult]