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Ralph W. Holzenthal, Roger J. Blahnik, Aysha Prather, and Karl Kjer
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taxon links [up-->]Triplectidinae [up-->]Leptocerinae [down<--]Leptoceroidea Interpreting the tree
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Containing group: Leptoceroidea


The long-horned caddisflies comprise 1 of the 3 largest families in the order with about 1,800 described species. The family is about equal in diversity to the Hydropsychidae and only surpassed by the microcaddisflies, Hydroptilidae, in total known species richness. In all of these families, many more new species assuredly await discovery and description, especially from tropical regions around the world. The family was first established by Leach (1815) and includes several species described by Linnaeus in Systema Naturae, 10th ed. Nineteenth century workers also included species now in Odontoceridae, Molannidae, Calamoceratidae, and Beraeidae in Leptoceridae, but by the early 20th century modern family concepts were for the most part established. Over Forty-five genera are known at present in the family, but new genera are still being described. Two genera in particular are widespread and diverse on all continents, Oecetis McLachlan with about 400 described species and Triaenodes McLachlan with about 230 known species.

Larvae of the family construct a wide diversity of cases, perhaps the most diverse in the order. Cases are fundamentally tubular, but can be made entirely of silk secretions, of plant pieces arranged spirally or laid transversely, or of large leaf fragments to form a flattened case. Others make simple tubular cases of sand grains, strongly or only slightly tapered towards the posterior ends; sometimes there are larger stones placed laterally. Mystacides larvae incorporate long conifer needles or leaf stems that trail off the end of the case. Some genera make irregular cases of plant fragments, while others hollow a twig or use the abandoned cases of other caddisflies as their own. Some Ceraclea build flat, limpet-like cases of sand grains, while those that feed on freshwater sponge incorporate sponge pieces and spicules in their cases. The larvae of Leptecho helicotheca Scott from South Africa build snail-shaped cases remarkably similar to those of Helicopsyche. Larvae are found everywhere, from high mountain torrents, through all orders of streams, to large lowland rivers. In northern latitudes, they are common in lakes and in the tropics they occur in oxbow lakes and other standing waters, even temporary ones; some are semi-terrestrial and inhabit the sides of waterfalls where they are wet by the splash. Larvae feed as leaf detritus shredders, periphyton scrapers, and predators, even on freshwater sponge. Adults are often very abundant and come to lights by the 1000s. Their long, slender antennae and generally narrow forewings are distinguishing features. There are quite a few genera that have brightly colored and iridescent hairs and scales on the wings, making them among the most beautiful of caddisflies. (From Holzenthal et al., 2007)

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

Phylogenetic studies within the family, in addition to those reviewed by Morse (1997), include Calor et al. (2006), Manuel et al. (2005), Morse and Yang (2002), Stuart and Currie (2002), and Yang and Morse (2000).


Calor, A.R., Holzenthal, R.W. & Amorim, D.S. (2006) Phylogenetic analysis of Notalina (Neonotalina) Holzenthal (Trichoptera: Leptoceridae), with the description of two new species from southeastern Brazil. Zootaxa, 1131, 33–48.

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

Leach, W.E. (1815) Entomology. Brewster's Edinburg Encyclopedia, 9, 52–172.

Manuel, K.L., Hur, J.M. & Morse, J.C. (2005) Phylogeny of the species of Triaenodes in North America (Trichoptera: Leptoceridae). In: Tanida, K. & Rossiter, A. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 11th International Symposium on Trichoptera. Tokai University Press, Kanagawa, Japan, pp. 261–268.

Morse, J.C. (1997) Phylogeny of Trichoptera. Annual Review of Entomology, 42, 427–450.

Morse, J.C. & Yang, L. (2002) Phylogeny, classification, and historical biogeography of world species of Mystacides (Trichoptera: Leptoceridae), with a new species from Sri Lanka. Nova Supplementa Entomologica (Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Trichoptera), 15, 173–186.

Stuart, A.E. & Currie, D.C. (2002) Behavioral homologies are recognized in leptocerine caddisflies (Trichoptera) even though endproduct morphology is different. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 21, 589–601

Yang, L. & Morse, J.C. (2000) Leptoceridae (Trichoptera) of the People's Republic of China. Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute, 64, i–vii+1–309.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Ceraclea resurgens
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Life Cycle Stage Adult
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Source Collection Barcode of Life Database (BOLD)
About This Page

Ralph W. Holzenthal
University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Roger J. Blahnik
University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Aysha Prather
Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Ralph W. Holzenthal at , Roger J. Blahnik at , Aysha Prather at , and Karl Kjer at

Page: Tree of Life Leptoceridae. Authored by Ralph W. Holzenthal, Roger J. Blahnik, Aysha Prather, and Karl Kjer. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 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:

Holzenthal, Ralph W., Roger J. Blahnik, Aysha Prather, and Karl Kjer. 2010. Leptoceridae. Version 20 July 2010 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Leptoceridae/14598/2010.07.20 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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