Adult caddisflies are commonly 3 to 15 millimeters (0.1 to 0.6 inch) in length
Variety of aquatic habitats, from small ponds and streams to large lakes and rivers; can survive a wide range of water quality conditions including slightly degraded or polluted streams
Ranges from bacteria to plants to other insects, depending on the species
Most of a cadisifly’s life cycle is spent in the larval stage and the adults are generally short lived.
Caddisflies are similar to moths in appearance and the larvae have elongated bodies resembling caterpillars of moths and butterflies. Adults are characterized by four wings that bear hairs on the membrane or prominent veins, or both. The head and thorax are also usually hairy. The antennae are long and slender and are usually about the length of the anterior wing.
Most larvae feed on aquatic plants, algae, diatoms, or plant debris. A few eat other aquatic insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. Most adult caddisflies are incapable of feeding on solids and instead suck nectar from flowers.
Caddisfies are an important food source for many predators, including Atlantic salmon, brown trout, birds and bats.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Caddisflies undergo complete metamorphosis. Their life cycle includes four stages – egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species produce one generation per year.
Did You Know?
- Caddisflies are closely related to moths (order Lepidoptera), which they are often mistaken for.
- As like in moths, caddisflies are active at night and attracted to light (representing important food source for bats).
- Caddisflies can produce cases for larvae, typically built out of sand, rock, twigs, leaf pieces, and any other kind of underwater debris.
- The word Trichoptera is in reference to the insect's hairy wings, the Greek "trich" meaning hair and "ptera" meaning wing.