Types of Caddisflies

Order Trichoptera, more popularly known as caddisflies, is one of the largest and most diverse groups of insects in the animal kingdom. In North America alone, the Order boasts over 1,200 types of caddisflies in various regions. The variety of caddisfly types is also the main cause of their obscurity: only a handful of people know how to differentiate one caddisfly type from another.

However, entomologists have devised a way to classify the various types of caddisflies. These categories—cased, free-living and net spinning—are based on larval behavior. While they are not absolute, these keys help scientists to identify studied variants.

Cased caddisflies live in shells made of plant detritus such as leaves, twigs and small branches. Cased caddisflies use their saliva to glue these materials together, creating a protective and pupal shell. This type of caddisfly larvae also possesses six legs on its thorax and small antennae that are difficult to see.

Free-living caddisfly types are similar in appearance to maggots. However, these caddisfly larvae are tinted green. They have six legs, as well as two hooks on their rear, which act as grips.

Net-spinning caddisfly types have gills along their abdomens that allow them to breathe under water. They also have six legs and two hooks. However, unlike the cased and free-living types, net-spinning variants live on rocks and spin webs.