This is one of the more diverse familes in northern latitudes, including 252 species in 41 genera in North America. Only a few species of this group live in the Midwest and South, which is why they are often called "Northern Caddisflies." They can be found in a variety of lotic and lentic habitats and have varying habits which become more specific at the genus and species levels of taxonomic refinement. Most are shredding or scraping herbivores or detritivores. This group is well known for their diversity in cases materials and architecture, which at the genus or species level can often be used to aid in identification.
Order:Larvae: Wings/wing pads absent. Eye spots present, but compound eyes absent. Antennae usually small, inconspicuous. Three pairs of segmented legs present on thorax. Pair of anal prolegs, each with single hook, located on last abdominal segment. Larvae can be free-living, in silken retreats attached to substrate, or in usually-portable tubes or cases made of sand, rocks, or plant material.
As in all families of superfamily Limnephiloidea, short, inconspicuous antennae are each located about midway between base of mandible and eye. Prosternal horn usually present. Chloride epithelia usually present on at least some abdominal segments. Otherwise distinguished from other Limnephiloidea families as follows: Mandibles usually toothed and setae usually absent between anterodorsal (sa1) sclerites or, if present then fewer than 25 setae (unlike Apataniidae). Mesonotum not notched along anterior margin (unlike Thremmatidae). Mesopleura not expanded as in Goeridae. Larvae usually large when mature and building tubular cases of varying materials, usually rocks or rough plant materials. Mature larvae 6–30 mm.
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