NRE 516 - Aquatic Entomology

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Morphology and Taxonomy / Synonomies / Emergence Pattern / List of Taxa Presented / References

Lab Notes for the Trichoptera - “Caddisflies”

Notes on Morphology and Taxonomy

Most species have 5 larval instars, a pupal stage, and a winged adult stage all of which generally take one year (univoltine). However, multivoltine populations are known especially in areas of higher summer temperature and food. Diapause occurs in some groups (see Wiggins 1977, 1996) and may occur in eggs, larvae, and even adults.

Characters used in taxonomic keys of larvae are valid for primarily the fifth instar (especially for Hydroptilidae), but may hold for fourth instar too. First instars may be indistinguishable as to family. Abdominal gills on those families with them do not develop in first instars. Pupal cases are recognized by being similar to the larval tube or retreat except that the open ends of the tube or retreat are sealed. Within a pupal case may be a prepupa, pharate pupa, pupa, or pharate adult. A more precise breakdown of developmental stages of Trichoptera is given in the figure below. Prepupae are initially similar in appearance to larvae except for being enclosed in a pupal case. However, pupal characters develop under the larval cuticle culminating with ecdysis and loss of larval cuticle (exuvium) and sclerites.

The type of material and form of the larval retreat or tube may be of diagnostic value. A key to the genera based solely on larval retreats and tubes is found in Cummins et al 1966, and a more recent key can be downloaded as a pdf file.

Considerable confusion may be encountered in the generic names for some Hydropsychidae. Morse and Holzenthal (1996) use the genus Ceratopsyche which is synonymous with Symphitopsyche in some older literature (e.g., Hilsenhoff 1981) and are distinguished from Hydropsyche. Which of these generic names are accepted appears to be in dispute. Earlier literature does not distinguish Ceratopsyche or Symphitopsyche from the broader classification Hydropsyche at all and, indeed, even some current literature may not recognize splitting some of the old Hydropsyche species into a new genus (Schefter et al. 1986, Schefter and Wiggins 1986, Wiggins 1996).

Species identifications of larvae may be difficult due to the lack of species keys or consistent larval characters for species. However, one can compare larvae with frequently better known adult species characters using the metamorphotype method. Most families of Trichoptera (except Leptoceridae and Molannidae) retain their larval sclerites within the pupal case. Thus, collecting pharate adults (pupae with most adult characters developed under the pupal cuticle) will also yield recognizable larval characters (the leftover larval sclerites) as well as pupal and adult diagnostic characters (especially adult genitalia). Therefore, save caddisfly pupae, especially those with darkened eyes and wing pads, to implement this method. Soaking these pharate adults in 12% NaOH overnight softens the pupal cuticle so that it can be removed to reveal the developing adult genitalia underneath. Alternatively, specimens can be cleared using 10% KOH, again by soaking overnight.

Morphology and Taxonomy / Synonomies / Emergence Pattern / List of Taxa Presented / References

Synonomies for Selected Michigan Taxa

    Dolophilodes = Trentonius, Sortosa
= Dolophilodes
Arctopsychidae = Hydropsychidae
    Macrostemum = Macronema, Macronemum
    Ceratopsyche = Symphitopsyche, morosa/bifida group of Hydropsyche
    Stactobiella = Tascobia
Apataniidae = Limnephilidae (in part, for subfamily Apataniinae, genus Apatania)
Uenoidae = Limnephilidae (in part, for subfamily Ueonoinae, genus Neophylax)
Goeridae = Limnephilidae (in part, for subfamily Goerinae, genus Goera)
    Ironoquia = Caborius
= Drusinus
= Platyphylax
= Astenophylax
= Glyphotaelius
Dipseudopsidae = Polycentropodidae (in part, for genus Phylocentropus)
    Paranyctiophylax = Nyctiophylax
    Beothukus = Fabria

Morphology and Taxonomy / Synonomies / Emergence Pattern / List of Taxa Presented / References

Trichoptera Emergence
Some common caddisflies from the Au Sable River drainage basin with dates of emergence.

Morphology and Taxonomy / Synonomies / Emergence Pattern / List of Taxa Presented / References

List of Taxa Presented

You must be able to identify in a lab exam the following taxa, larvae to genus, adults to family, either by sight or using a taxonomic resource. Taxa denoted in blue are to be identified by sight, those in black are taxa to be identified using any resource you wish within a set period of time (e.g., 1 minute). (Taxa that are blank will not be presented during an exam).

Suborder Family Genus Stage Vial Required Identification
Annulipalpa Arctopsychidae Arctopsyche L 1 Key
Parapsyche L 2 Visual, Key
Hydropsychidae Cheumatopsyche L 3 Visual, Key
Cheumatopsyche A 4 Key
Diplectrona L 5 Key
Hydropsyche L 6 Visual, Key
Ceratopsyche L 7 Visual, Key
Macrostemum L 8 Key


Chimarra L 9 Visual, Key
Dolophilodes L 10 Key


  A 11  
Neureclipsis L 12 Visual, Key
Polycentropus L 13 Key
Psychomyiidae Psychomyia L 14 Key


Glossosoma L 15 Visual, Key
Agapetus L 16 Key
Protoptila L 17 Visual, Key
Hydroptilidae   A 18  
Hydroptila L 19 Visual, Key
Mayatrichia L 20 Key
Neotrichia L 21 Key
Ochrotrichia L 22 Key
Leucotrichia L 23 Visual, Key


Rhyacophila L 24 Visual, Key
Rhyacophila P 25  
Rhyacophila A 26  


Brachycentrus A 27  
Brachycentrus L 28 Visual, Key
Micrasema L 29 Key
Goeridae Goera L 30 Key
Helicopyschidae Helicopsyche L 31 Visual, Key
Lepidostomatidae Lepidostoma L 32 Visual, Key
Leptoceridae   A 33  
Ceraclea L 34 Key
Nectopsyche L 35 Visual, Key
Oecetis L 36 Key
Limnephilidae   A 37  
Asynarchus L 38 Key
Frenesia L 39 Key
Hesperophylax L 40 Key
Hydatophylax L 41 Visual, Key
Ironoquia L 42 Visual, Key
Limnephilus L 43 Visual, Key
Platycentropus L 44 Key
Pycnopsyche L 45 Visual, Key
Molannidae Molanna L 46 Visual, Key
Molanna A 47  
Phryganeidae Banksiola L 48 Visual, Key
Agrypnia L 49 Key
Phryganea A 50  
Ptilostomis L 51 Visual, Key
Ptilostomis A 52  
Sericostomatidae Agarodes L 53 Key
Uenoidae Neophylax L 54 Visual, Key

Morphology and Taxonomy / Synonomies / Emergence Pattern / List of Taxa Presented / References


Recommended Readings

  • Morse JC, Holzenthal RW. 1996. Trichoptera genera, pp. 350-386 in An introduction to the aquatic insects of North America. 2nd ed. R. W. Merritt and K. W. Cummins (eds.). Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company: Dubuque, Iowa.
  • Ross HH. 1944. The caddisflies, or Trichoptera, or Illinois. Bulletin of the Illinois Natural History Survey 23:1-326.
  • Wiggins GB. 1995. Larvae of the North American caddisfly genera (Trichoptera). Second Edition. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, Canada.
  • Wiggins GB. 1996. Trichoptera, pp. 309-349. In: An introduction to the aquatic insects of North America. 2nd ed. R. W. Merritt and K. W. Cummins (eds.). Kendall/Hunt Publ. Co.: Dubuque, Iowa.

Additional References

  • Barnard PC. 1984. Adult morphology related to classification. Series Ent. 27:19-29.
  • Barnard PC. 1985. An annotated checklist of the Trichoptera of Britain, UK and Ireland. Entomological Gazette 36:31-45.
  • Dohet A. 2002. Are caddisflies an ideal group for the biological assessment of water quality in streams? Nova Supplementa Entomologica (Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Trichoptera) 15: 507-520.
  • Flint O.S. 1984. The genus Brachycentrus in North America, with a proposed phylogeny of the genera of Brachycentridae (Trichoptera). Smithsonian Contr. Zool. no. 398, 58pp.
  • Floyd MA. 1993. The biology and distribution of Oecetis larvae in North America (Trichoptera: Leptoceridae). Proc. 7th. Int. Symp. Trich. pp. 87-91.
  • Frania HE, Wiggins GB. 1997. Analysis of morphological and behavioural evidence for the phylogeny and higher classification of Trichoptera (Insecta). Royal Ontario Museum Life Sciences Contributions 160. Ontario.
  • Friedlander M. 1993. Phylogenetic position of rhyacophiloid caddisflies (Insecta, Trichoptera), a spermatological analysis of Rhyacophilidae and Glossosomatidae. Zoologica Scripta, 22(3): 299-304.
  • Friedlander M, Jeger RE. 1990. Phylogenesis of spermatogenesis in Annulipalpia caddisflies: An ultrastructural analysis on Philopotamidae spermiogenesis. Journal Of Structural Biology 105(1-3): 75-79.
  • Gall WK. 1994. Phylogenetic studies in the Limnephiloidea, with a revision of the world genera of Goeridae (Trichoptera). Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. of Toronto, Toronto.
  • Glover JB, Floyd MA. 1996. Larvae of the genus Nectopsyche (Trichoptera: Leptoceridae) in eastern North America, including a new species from North Carolina. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 23(3):526-541.
  • Hickin NE. 1967. Caddis Larvae. Hutchinson. London.
  • Hilsenhoff WL. 1985. The Brachycentridae (Trichoptera) of Wisconsin. The Great Lakes Entomologist 18:149-154.
  • Ivanov VD. 1997. Rhyacophiloidea: a paraphyletic taxon. Pages 189-193 in R.W. Holzenthal & O.S. Flint, Jr. (editors). Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Trichoptera. Ohio Biological Survey. Columbus.
  • Ivanov VD. 2002. Contribution to the Trichoptera phylogeny: new family tree with consideration of Trichoptera-Lepidoptera relations. Pages 277-292 in W. Mey (editor). Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Trichoptera. Nova Supplementa Entomologica, Keltern.
  • Ivanov VD, Kozlov MV. 1987. Comparative analysis of pterothoracic musculature of caddis-flies (Insecta, Trichoptera). Zoologicheskii Zhurnal 66(10): 1484-1498.
  • Kjer KM, Blahnik RJ, Holzenthal RW. 2001. Phylogeny of Trichoptera (Caddisflies): Characterization of Signal and Noise Within Multiple Datasets. Systematic Biology 50(6): 781-816.
  • Kjer KM, Blahnik RJ, Holzenthal RW. 2002. Phylogeny of caddisflies (Insecta, Trichoptera). Zoologica Scripta, 31: 83-91.
  • Kobayashi Y, Ando H. 1988. Phylogenetic relationships among the lepidopteran and trichopteran suborders (Insecta) from the embryological standpoint. Zeitschrift Fuer Zoologische Systematik Und Evolutionsforschung 26(3): 186-210.
  • Kristensen NP. 1984. Studies on the morphology and systematics of primitive Lepidoptera (Insecta). Steenstrupia 10: 141-191.
  • Kristensen NP. 1991. Phylogeny of extant hexapods. Pages 125-140 in CSIRO (editors). The Insects of Australia. Cornell University Press. Ithaca.
  • Kristensen NP. 1997. Early Evolution of the Lepidoptera + Trichoptera Lineage: Phylogeny and the Ecological Scenario. In Grandcolas, P. (editor), The Origin of Biodiversity in Insects: Phylogenetic Tests of Evolutionary Scenarios. Mém. Mus. Natn. Hist. Nat., 173: 253-271. Paris.
  • Mackay RJ, Wiggins GB. 1978. Ecological diversity in the Trichoptera. Annual Review of Entomology 24: 185-208.
  • Malicky H. 1973. Trichoptera (Köcherfliegen). Handbuch der Zoologie, Bank IV, Halfte 2, Teil 2/29. Walter de Gruyter. Berlin.
  • Morse JC. 1997. Phylogeny of Trichoptera. Annual Review of Entomology 42:427-450.
  • Neboiss A. 1991. Chapter 40. Trichoptera (Caddis-flies, caddises). Pages 787-816 in CSIRO (editors). The Insects of Australia. Cornell University Press. Ithaca.
  • Nimmo AP. 1986. The adult Polycentropodidae of Canada and adjacent United States. Quaest. Ent. 22:143-252.
  • Nimmo AP. 1987. The adult Arctopsychidae and Hydropsychidae (Trichoptera) of Canada and adjacent United States. Quaestiones Entomologicae 23: 1-189.
  • Pescador ML, Rasmussen AK, Harris SC. 1995. Identification manual for the caddisfly (Trichoptera) larvae of Florida. State of Florida, Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water Facilities, Tallahassee, Florida. (Free PDF).
  • Resh VH. 1993. Recent trends in the use of Trichoptera in water quality monitoring. Pages 285-291 in Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Trichoptera (C. Otto, ed.). Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • Ross HH. 1956. Evolution and classification of the mountain caddisflies. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.
  • Ross HH. 1964. Evolution of caddis worm cases and nets. American Zoologist, 4: 209-220.
  • Ross HH. 1967. The evolution and past dispersal of the Trichoptera. Annual Review of Entomology 12: 169-206.
  • Rutherford JE. 1985. An illustrated key to the pupae of six species of Hydropsyche (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae). The Great Lakes Entomologist 18:123-132.
  • Schefter PW, Wiggins GB. 1986. A systematic study of the Nearctic larvae of the Hydropsyche morsa group (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae). Life Sciences Miscellaneous Publications, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada. 96 p.
  • Schefter PW, Wiggins GB, Unzicker JD. 1986. A proposal for assignment of Ceratopsyche as a subgenus of Hydropsyche, with new synonyms and a new species (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae). Journal of the North American Benthological Society 5:67-84.
  • Schmid F. 1980. Genera des Trichoptères de Canada et des États adjacents. Les Insectes et Arachnides du Canada, part 7. Agriculture Canada, Publication 1692. Ottawa.
  • Schmid F. 1984. Un essai d'évaluation de la faune mondiale des Trichoptères. Page 337 in J.C. Morse (editor). Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Trichoptera. Dr. W. Junk, Publishers. The Hague.
  • Schmid F. 1985. Review of Canadian Trichoptera. 2. Glossosomatidae and Philopotamidae (Annlipalpi). Translation of the Bureau of Canadian Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (5197), 99 pp. ISSN 0704-3716.
  • Shields O. 1988. Mesozoic history and neontology of Lepidoptera in relation to Trichoptera, Mecoptera, and angiosperms. Journal Of Paleontology 62(2): 251-258.
  • Schmude KL, Hilsenhoff WL. 1986. Biology, ecology, larval taxonomy, and distribtuion of Hydropsychidae (Trichoptera) in Wisconsin. The Great Lakes Entomologist 19:123-145.
  • Schuster GA, Etnier DA. 1978. A manual for the identification of the caddisfly genera Hydropsyche Pictet and Symphitopsyche Ulmer in eastern and central North America (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 600/4-78-060.
  • Stuart AE, Currie DC. 2001. Using caddisfly (Trichoptera) case-building behavior in higher level phylogenetic reconstruction. Canadian Journal of Zoology 79:1842-1854.
  • Weaver JS. 1988. A synopsis of the North American Lepidostomatidae (Trichoptera). Contributions of the American Entomological Institute 24:1-141.
  • Weaver JS. 1983. The evolution and classification of Trichoptera, with a revision of the Lepidostomatidae and a North American synopsis of this family. Ph.D. dissertation, Clemson Univ. Clemson, South Carolina.
  • Weaver JS. 1984. The evolution and classification of Trichoptera, Part 1: the groundplan of Trichoptera. Pages 413-419 in J.C. Morse (editor). Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Trichoptera. Dr. W. Junk Publishers, The Hague.
  • Weaver JS. 1992. Remarks on the evolution of Trichoptera: a critique of Wiggins and Wichard's classification. Cladistics 8: 171-180.
  • Weaver JS. 1992b. Further remarks on the evolution of Trichoptera: a reply to Wiggins. Cladistics 8: 187-190.
  • Weaver JS, Morse JC. 1986. Evolution of feeding and case-making behavior in Trichoptera. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 5(2): 150-158.
  • Wheeler WC, Whiting M, Wheeler QD, Carpenter JM. 2001. The phylogeny of extant hexapod orders. Cladistics 17: 113-169.
  • Wichard W, Klein HP, Herter P. 1997. Pupal cocoon of Amphiesmenoptera (Lepidopera = Trichoptera) with evolutionary considerations of the Trichoptera. Pages xx-xx. In: R.W. Holzenthal & O.S. Flint, Jr. (editors). Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Trichoptera. Ohio Biological Survey. Columbus.
  • Wiggins GB. 1992. Comments on the phylogeny of pupation behavior in Trichoptera: a response to Weaver. Cladistics 8: 181-185.
  • Wiggens GB. 1998. The caddisfly family Phryganeidae (Trichoptera). University of Toronto Press, Toronto.
  • Wiggens GB, Parker CR. 1997. Caddisflies (Trichoptera) of the Yukon, with analysis of the Beringian and Holarctic species of North America, pp. 787-866 in Insects of the Yukon. Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods). H. V. Danks and J. A. Downes (eds.). Ottawa, Canada.
  • Wiggins GB, Wichard W. 1989. Phylogeny of pupation in Trichoptera, with proposals on the origin and higher classification of the order. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 8: 260-276.
  • Wymer DA, Morse JC. 2000. Larva, pupa, and adults of Glossosoma nigrior (Trichoptera: Glossosomatidae) with a review of the eastern North American species of Glossosoma. Entomological News 111(3): 149-158.
  • Wiggins GB, Wichard W. 1989. Phylogeny of pupation in Trichoptera, with proposals on the origin and higher classification of the order. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 8(3): 260-276.
  • Williams DD, Tavares AF, Bryant E. 1987. Respiratory device or camouflage? A case for the caddisfly. Oikos 50(1): 42-52.

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