This family includes 1,484 species globally and 76 species in North America. Their preferred habitat is riffles, where their nets can be found on the undersides of rocks. The larvae spin wind-sock like nets with ultrafine mesh that are held open by the current, which they use to filter feed on very small bits of detritus, algae, and even small animals. These nets are positioned beneath the rocks and have the smallest mesh size known of all the net-spinning caddisflies. When removed from water, the nets collapse and look like brown slime. This group is unique in that it is the only group with a membranous labrum that is expanded along the distal edge, giving it a T-shape. However, sometimes when placed in ethanol or other preservatives, this soft labrum gets sucked into the mouth where it cannot be seen. The most common species, Dolophilodes distinctus, can emerge as adults year-round; however, females that emerge during the winter have very short stubby wings and are flightless.
Mid-Atlantic: 3 - 4
Upper Midwest: up to 4
Midwest: up to 2.6
Southeast: 0.4 - 2.8
Collector / Filterer
+ Expanded Character List
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.
Family: Labrum membranous and T-shaped, in preserved specimens often sucked into mouth and hidden from view. Antennae small, nub-like, and inconspicuous. Pronotum sclerotized, but without anterolateral lobes. Meso- and metanota membranous. Abdominal tergum 9 entirely membranous. Larvae spinning stationary sac-shaped silken nets for filter feeding on undersides of rocks.