Print This Page

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


Major Group: Insecta
Order: Trichoptera
Family: Hydroptilidae

Descriptive Features:

  • swollen abdomen, greatly enlarged relative to the thorax
  • abdominal prolegs fused, anal claws small and laterally placed on terminal segment
  • all thoracic nota sclerotised
  • abdominal gills absent
  • Total length: 2-6 mm
  • Case: Transparent, purse like, constructed from a glue like secretion, silk, from the mouth often incorporating sand grains or algal material.
  • Taxonomic Checklist: Genera
    Acanthotrichia(larva unknown)
    (larva unknown)
    Chrysotrichia (larva unknown)
    (larva unknown)
    (larva unknown)
    (larva unknown)

    Distribution: Australia wide

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 4

    Functional Feeding Group: scrapers, predators

    Ecology: Instream habitat: Hydroptilid larvae occur in still and flowing, fresh to brackish waters, generally on upper surfaces of rocks and boulders or amongst filamentous green algae or on macrophytes. Some species can be found in the splash zone of waterfalls or cascades, often aggregating in crevices amongst algal, liverwort and moss growths.
    Feeding ecology:Most larvae feed on filamentous green and red algae, epilithic micro-algae, periphyton and filamentous diatoms. Orthotrichia larvae are often found in insect egg masses on the undersides of rocks and stones, apparently feeding on the eggs. Orthotrichia aberrans are parasitic on other caddis fly pupae.
    Habit: Final instar larvae construct a silken purse-like case. The early instars are free swimming, small animals with long ‘spidery’ legs. All instars a relatively small, giing them the common name of ‘micro caddis’.
    Life history: The hydroptilid life cycle differs from that of other Trichoptera in that larvae are only cased in the fifth (final) instar, but free-living for the first four instars, which are short in duration. Before pupation the larva attaches the case to the substratum. Some species aggregate on upper surface of rocks at pupation, others may pupate singly on or beneath rocks.
    Information Sources: Wells 1985, 1997, Dean et al 2004, Dean et al 1995, Neboiss 2003, Davis & Christidis 1997
     More ›››  key to genera