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Karl Kjer taxon links [down<--]Sericostomatoidea Interpreting the tree
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Containing group: Sericostomatoidea


The family was first described as a subfamily within Rhyacophilidae by Tillyard (1925) to accommodate the species Chathamia brevipennis Tillyard, a species endemic to the Chatham Islands, a group of 10 small islands 800 km east of New Zealand. It was later moved to the Philanisidae by Wise (1965), a family erected by Mosely (in Mosely & Kimmins 1953) to accommodate Philanisus plebeius Walker, first described in  Hydropsychidae and later included in Sericostomatidae by Ulmer (1907). Riek (1976) synonymized Philanisidae with Chathamiidae and provided a comprehensive review of the family, including a discussion of phylogeny and the description of 2 new species. Ward (1995) described a 3rd species of Philanisus, such that the family contains 5 species, distributed as follows: Chathamia brevipennis Tillyard (Chatham Islands), C. integripennis Riek (New Zealand), Philanisus plebeius Walker (New Zealand, southeast Australia), P. fasciatus Riek (Kermadec Islands, ca. 1000 km NNE of New Zealand), and P. mataua Ward (New Zealand). Taken From Holzenthal et al. (2007).


Ulmer (in Mosely & Kimmins 1953) described the larva of P. plebeius, long known to inhabit marine intertidal rock pools (Hudson 1904), but it was not until the late 1970s when the remarkable biology and life-history of the species was fully revealed (Anderson & Lawson-Kerr 1977, Winterbourn & Anderson 1980). The larvae and pupae of the species, and assumed all members of the family, are among the very few fully marine insects. The females oviposit through the papular pores of intertidal starfish where the eggs undergo embryonic development. After hatching, the 1st instar larvae leave the starfish through the same pores and construct cases of calcareous algae. Larvae feed on non-calcareous Rhodophyceae. Adult females have long oviscapts, probably facilitating the insertion of eggs in the starfish. Adults of the Chatham Island species are brachypterous, but those of other species are fully winged. Taken From Holzenthal et al. (2007).


Anderson, D.T. & Lawson-Kerr, C. (1977) The embryonic development of the marine caddis fly, Philanisus plebeius Walker (Trichoptera: Chathamiidae). Biological Bulletin, 153, 98105.

Hudson, G.V. (1904) New Zealand Neuroptera. A popular introduction to the life and habits of may-flies, dragon-flies, caddis-flies and allied insects inhabiting New Zealand, including notes on their relation to angling. West, Newman and Co., London, 102 pp.

Mosely, M.E. & Kimmins, D.E. (1953) The Trichoptera of Australia and New Zealand. British Museum (Natural History), London, 550 pp.

Riek, E.F. (1976) The marine caddisfly family Chathamiidae (Trichoptera). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, 15, 405419.

Tillyard, R.J. (1925) Caddis-flies (Order Trichoptera) from the Chatham Islands. Records of the Canterbury Museum, 2, 277284.

Ulmer, G. (1907) Trichoptera, in Wytsman, P. (Ed.). Genera Insectorum, 60, 1259.

Ward, J.B. (1995) Nine new species of New Zealand caddis (Trichoptera). New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 22, 91103.

Winterbourn, M.J. & Anderson, N.H. (1980) The life history of Philanisus plebeius Walker (Trichoptera: Chathamiidae), a caddisfly whose eggs were found in a starfish. Ecological Entomology, 5, 293303.

Wise, K.A.J. (1965) An annotated list of aquatic and semi-aquatic insects of New Zealand. Pacific Insects, 7, 191216.

About This Page

Karl Kjer
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Karl Kjer at

Page: Tree of Life Chathamiidae. Authored by Karl Kjer. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Kjer, Karl. 2010. Chathamiidae. Version 20 July 2010 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Chathamiidae/14632/2010.07.20 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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