What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

Logo: What Bug Is That? Logo: Taxonomy Research & Information Network



The family is known from all faunal regions and there are about 80 genera with 650 species. Known throughout Australia and represented by 12 genera with 101 species (Wells 1983, 1985).


This is a large family, commonly known as the micro-caddises; they are the smallest of all Trichoptera with wing span 4-12 mm. Ocelli either present or absent according to genus. Maxillary palps 5-segmented in both sexes, first 2 segments very short, and apical segment simple. Antennae shorter than fore wing; shorter in females than in males; basal segment shorter than head. Mesoscutum without setal warts, scutellum flat, triangular, pointed posteriorly, margins vertical. Wings elongate, slender, usually acute apically, densely covered with fine pubescence, hind wing fringe with very long hairs, longer than width of wing; wing venation reduced, interpretation of veins often very difficult. Tibial spurs variable: 0-1:2-3:3-4.

Larvae during the first 4 instars are small, slender and free living. In the 5th instar a purse-shaped case is constructed and the abdomen becomes enlarged. Heavily sclerotised plates present on all 3 thoracic nota; mid and hind legs often longer than fore legs; anal claws small. Larval case usually laterally, but sometimes dorsoventrally, flattened; constructed either of small sand grains, algae, other plant material or entirely of silk. Before pupation the larva attaches the case to the substrate.

  • Hellyethira sp. larvae without case

  • Hellyethira sp. larvae in case

  • Hydroptilid (micro caddisfly, 3mm)