Northern Caddisfly (Pycnopsyche sp.)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Northern Caddisfly.
Updated: 9/29/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Northern Caddisflies are a group of highly beneficial insects that split their lives between water, land and air.
While Northern Caddisflies resemble moths, they are not related. A Caddisfly has a life cycle more similar to dragonflies. Female Caddisflies lay their fertilized eggs either directly in water, or just above the water line on some kind of vegetation. Creeks, streams, lagoons, ponds and lakes make great habitats. Eggs hatch and the worm-like larvae live underwater for sometimes as long as a year. They have feathery gills that allow them to breathe. They build little cases or 'homes' for themselves that they bring with them everywhere they go and eventually use them when it is time to pupate. In the meantime, they feed on plant material under water or other small aquatic insects. They molt multiple times underwater, growing larger, and building newer, bigger cases when needed. After pupating into their winged adult form, they crawl or float out of the water and fly away. Adults have short life spans (just a month or so), making it a special thing to see one alive. They do not eat. Instead they spend all their remaining days reproducing.
Because much of the young Northern Caddisfly's life is spent underwater, the cleanliness of the water greatly impacts the insect's ability to survive. Toxic or chemically polluted water kills the delicate larvae, which results in a small population or the complete absence of Caddisflies in that region. For this reason, biologists use the presence of Caddisfly larvae and their adults as an indication of how clean that water source is. Many Northern Caddisflies equates to good, clean streams and creeks.