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 Major Groups | Insecta (insects) | Trichoptera (caddisflies) | Leptoceridae


Major Group: Insecta
Order: Trichoptera
Family: Leptoceridae
Leptoceridae is one of the largest trichopteran families found throughout Australia, consisting of 15 described genera and 144 species.  

Descriptive Features:

  • antennae are situated on the front of the head capsule (between the eye and the front of the head capsule in Triplexa) and are long (shorter in most species of Triplectides and Oecetis, minute in Triplexa)
  • ventral apotome usually as long as head ventrally, often broad
  • prosternum usually without a medial horn but this is present in at least one species
  • metanotum without sclerites or with 2 - 8 sclerites
  • metasternum with at least 2 setae, often with sclerites as well
  • hindlegs are usually long, femur divided into 2 segments (one very short)
  • tibia often divided into 2 about equal segments
  • gills with single or multiple filaments
  • Total length: 2 - 20 mm
  • Note: A small species has recently been found to posses a pale, prosternal horn without metanotal sclerites, which may cause confusion when using the family key.
  • Case: Various, made from sand grains or pieces of organic matter and hollowed out sticks and stems.
  • Taxonomic Checklist: Genera


    (1 undescribed genus)

    Distribution: Australia wide

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 6. Symphitoneuria opposita, Symphitoneuria wheeleri and some species of Notalina can tolerate salinity. Oecetis sp. have been collected from an estuary, so presumably can tolerate some salinity.

    Functional Feeding Group: shredders, predators, scrapers

    Ecology: Adults are commonly known as ‘long-horned caddis’.
    Instream habitat: Leptocerid larvae occur in a range of habitats from swamps or slow flowing rivers in warm regions to cool rapidly flowing alpine streams, including temporary waters and saline lakes. They are usually found on detritus or aquatic macrophytes.
    Feeding ecology: Leptoceridae species include shredders, scrapers, grazers and predators. As a group, they are herbivores, carnivores, detritivores and generalist feeders.
    Habit: Leptoceridae species are sometimes known as ‘stick caddis’ but this only applies to the larvae of some species which create a portable home by chewing out the inside of a stick or stem e.g. Triplectides. However, other species utilise organic litter e.g. some species of Notalina, Oecetis or sand grains e.g. other species of Notalina, Oecetis. All individuals of some species will each construct a case of the same neat design e.g. spirally arranged, equally sized pieces of leaf detritus, whilst other species will construct ad hoc ‘messy’ cases of whatever is immediately available. Case construction is usually species specific, however the type of materials used may change as the larvae develops through the instars with some cases collected consisting of half early instar material e.g. sand grains and then topped with later instar materials e.g. stick detritus.
    Life history: Only females of Leptorussa darlingtoni lay their eggs terrestrially, other females lay their eggs in the water. Pupation is the shortest phase of the lifecycle. Emergence occurs in October through to May depending upon the species. Most Leptoceridae species are univoltine, but some are semivoltine or multivoltine.
    Information Sources: St Clair 1993, 2000, Dean et al 2004, Williams 1980, Davis & Christidis 1997, Neboiss 2003 
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