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


The helicophids are a small family of caddisflies found in Australia, New Zealand, and now New Caledonia as well as austral South America (southern Chile and adjacent Argentina), one of several caddisfly families showing this trans-Antarctic biogeographical distribution pattern. The family was created by Mosely (in Mosely and Kimmins 1953) to accommodate a new genus and 2 new species, Helicopha astia Mosely and H. hortena Mosely, both from New South Wales. Additional genera have been transferred to the family from Beraeidae, Calocidae, and Sericostomatidae and described within the family itself, the most recent of these being Briama Johanson and Ward from New Caledonia and Heloccabus Neboiss from eastern Australia, the later placed provisionally in the family (Johanson & Ward 2001, Neboiss 2002). In addition, the endemic New Zealand genus Alloecentrella was just transferred to the family from Calocidae by Henderson & Ward (2007). Thus, the current accounting of the 11 genera in the family, for a total of about 35 species, is as follows: Alloecella Banks (Australia), Alloecentrella Wise (New Zealand), Alloecentrellodes Flint (Chile), Austrocentrus Schmid (Argentina, Chile), Briama Johanson and Ward (New Caledonia), Eosericostoma Schmid (Argentina, Chile), Helicopha Mosely (Australia, New Caledonia), Heloccabus Neboiss (Australia), Microthremma Schmid (Chile), Pseudosericostoma Schmid (Chile), and Zelolessica McFarlane (New Zealand). From Holzenthal et al. (2007a).


Helicophid larvae build tubular cases of sand grains, plant material, including almost entirely of pieces of moss, or entirely of silk; some Chilean species construct broad, flat cases of small mineral fragments. They live in clear, fast flowing, forested streams and spring runs, often associated with aquatic moss. Adults of many species are small, rare, and infrequently collected, although those of the Chilean genus Eosericostoma are common and widespread (Flint 1992). From Holzenthal et al. (2007a).

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

Henderson (2007), Johanson (2003), and Neboiss (2002) studied phylogenetic relationships among some members of the family; interestingly Henderson & Ward’s (2007) cladogram did not group Heloccabus with other helicophids included in their data matrix. The current placement of many genera in the family is equivocal and a revision of the entire family and others in the Sericostomatoidea is needed (Flint 1992). From Holzenthal et al. (2007a).


Flint, O.S., Jr. (1992) Studies of Neotropical caddisflies, XLIX: the taxonomy and relationships of the genus Eosericostoma, with descriptions of the immature stages (Trichoptera: Helicophidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 105, 494511.

Henderson, I.M. & Ward, J.B. (2007) Three new species in the endemic New Zealand genus Alloecentrella (Trichoptera), and a re-evaluation of its family placement. Aquatic Insects, 29, 7996.

Holzenthal R.W., Blahnik, R.J., Prather, A.L., and Kjer K.M. 2007a. Order Trichoptera Kirby 1813 (Insecta), Caddisflies. In: Zhang, Z.-Q., and Shear, W.A. (Eds). 2007 Linneaus Tercentenary: Progress in Invertebrate Taxonomy. Zootaxa. 58 pp. 1668:639-698

Holzenthal R.W., Blahnik, R.J., Kjer K.M and Prather, A.L. 2007b. An update on the phylogeny of Caddisflies (Trichoptera). Proceedings of the XIIth International Symposium on Trichoptera. Bueno-Soria, R. Barba-Alvearz and B. Armitage (Eds). pp. 143-153. The Caddis Press.

Johanson, K.A. (2003) Phylogenetic analysis of the genus Helicopha Mosely (Trichoptera: Helicophidae), with description of five new species from New Caledonia. Insect Systematics & Evolution, 34, 131151.

Johanson, K.A. & Ward, J.B. (2001) Four new species and a new genus of Trichoptera (Helicophidae) from New Caledonia. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 28, 247255.

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

Neboiss, A. (2002) A family problem with placement of Heloccabus buccinatus gen. nov. & sp. nov., an Australian caddisfly (Insecta: Trichoptera). Nova Supplementa Entomologica (Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Trichoptera), 15, 195204.

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 Helicophidae. 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. Helicophidae. Version 20 July 2010 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Helicophidae/14636/2010.07.20 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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