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Caddis flies are a large group of insects that live both in water and on land. There are over 1,100 species of caddis flies in the United States.
Adult caddis flies resemble small moths with wings held tent-like over their back when at rest. They have long hair-like antennae. Most species are small (usually 1/4 inch or less) and are dull colored. However, some species are more brightly colored. Immature stages or larvae superficially resemble hairless caterpillars.
Caddis Flies spend most of their lives in water, especially lakes, ponds, or slow-moving streams. Adult Caddis Flies live out of the water and have four wings which are brown with patterns on the them. They are not strong fliers and flutter a lot like moths. Caddis flies are not real flies; they have long antennae and legs. Adults are usually active at night, and they rarely go far from the water where they were born.
Adults do not feed and have vestigial mouth parts; larval stages have chewing mouthparts. Immatures are found in water, usually in flowing water. Larvae are scavengers, herbivores or predaceous. They can spin silk and use it to form nets to strain material from the water to eat or to form cases in which to hide. The type of case or use of silk for a web depends on the species.
Caddis Fly Immature
Life Cycle : After mating, female caddis flies lay their eggs in the water. Almost as soon as a larva hatches from its egg, it starts building a case. To do this, the larva gathers bits of twigs, leaves, grass, sand, gravel, seeds, bark, mollusk shells, and other items it finds on the bottom in the water, and it glues them together with a sticky substance from its mouth. The caddis case will be the larvaâ€™s protection for most of its life.
The caddis fly larva can stick its head and legs out of its case, which looks like a long tube. When in danger, it can tuck itself inside. The larva can also crawl around, carrying its case with it, much like a hermit crab. Inside the case, the larva has small hooks at the end of its body to help hold onto it. As the larva grows, it can add onto its case.
Larvae feed during the day. They are grazers and eat whatever they can find on the bottom, including algae, fungi, detritus, and very small invertebrates. When the larvae are full grown (late Spring or early Summer), they are ready to pupate. Each larva attaches its case to the bottom, or to a rock or plant. Then it plugs up the hole of its case. The caddis fly stays a pupa for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, the pupa is able to push its way out of its case and finds its way to the surface.
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