“Aquatic Caterpillars, Snout Moths”
“Alderflies, Dobsonflies, and Fishflies”
“Dragonflies and Damselflies”
“Watersnipe Flies, Aquatic Flies”
The aquatic fly genus Atherix includes 3 North American species. Aquatic snipe flies usually prefer streams and rivers with lots of dissolved oxygen, such as in lotic-erosional or depositional habitats. They can be found sprawling or burrowing in the substrate. Though they might not look like it, the larvae are piercing predators with strong hooks in the narrow head. To the novice, a larva looks much like a caterpillar, with ventral prolegs and terminal appendages that appear to be antennae. However, those appendages are at the wrong end of the body: their “antennae” are actually long posterior tubercles, divergent terminal fringed processes that help with locomotion and serve as backend "feelers."
Southeast: 2.1 and higher
Upper Midwest: 2 and higher
Midwest: 3.1 and higher
Mid-Atlantic: 2 and higher
Piercer / Predator
Widespread (east of the Rocky Mtns.)
Base of Mandibles with Bristles
Mandibles Moving Vertically
Pair of Long Tubercles Fringed with Hair
Prolegs Present Ventrally from segments 1-8
Slender Tubercles on 2-7
+ Expanded Character List
Order: Wings and wing pads absent. Eye spots sometimes visible, but compound eyes absent. Segmented legs absent, but sometimes fleshy prolegs present. Sometimes with distinct head, often without head or with head drawn deeply into thorax. Body flattened, cylindrical, or maggot-like.
Family: The head is visible but reduced and partly retracted in the thorax; the mouth hooks (mandibles) move up and down parallel to one another; the body is cylindrical; the abdomen has two pairs of long pointed tubercles laterally and dorsolaterally, eight pairs of ventral prolegs with tiny apical hooks, and a pair of long hairy tubercles posteriorly.
Genus: Atherix is one of two genera in North America, the other is Suragina located in Texas and South America. Character to separate genera: Ventromedial pseudopod on abdominal segment 8 without a third row of spines.