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Family Overview
Most caterpillars in the family Crambidae are terrestrial; however, a few of these caterpillars are truly aquatic (about 740 species worldwide). They are holometabolous, meaning they have egg, larva, pupal, and adult stages. They can be found in a variety of habitats including lentic and lotic habitats. Most larvae feed on floating plants or algae on rock surfaces. Often, first instar larvae are hydrophilic (water-loving) and absorb oxygen directly from the water. As the larvae become larger they tend to be hydrophobic (water-resistant) with a layer of air held against the body. This is advantageous, as oxygen diffuses more rapidly through air than water. They often have a close relationship with a host plant on which they both live and feed; these plant feeders often cover themselves with pieces of leaf or they burrow in the stem. The algal-feeding species spin a silk tent from beneath which they graze on the algae. They pupate in or beneath the plant and silk material, and emerge as terrestrial snout moths.
Characteristics
POLLUTION TOLERANCE
Mid-Atlantic: up to 5
0 = least tolerant, 10 = most tolerant
FEEDING HABITS
Scraper / Grazer
Shredder / Herbivore
MOVEMENT
Burrower
Climber
Clinger
Swimmer
Diagnostic Characters
+ Expanded Character List
Order: Caterpillars with wings and wing pads absent. Eye spots usually present, but compound eyes absent. Short segmented legs present on thorax, not as long as abdomen. Underside of abdomen with several pairs of prolegs (fleshy nubs) with tiny hooks.
Family: Ventral prolegs present on abdominal segments 3, 4, 5, 6, and 10. Segmented thoracic legs present. Gills sometimes present on sides of abdomen. Prolegs with crochets (tiny hooks) in transverse ellipses or bands.