Virtual Cabinet of Curiosities

27. Caddisfly larval cases, Richard Mason, Postgraduate Researcher

River caddisflies are engineers. Not only do they adapt to suit their environment, but they also adapt their environment to suit themselves! These caddisflies have built cases of sand (and snail shells) held together by silk, which weigh them down, so that they don’t get washed away in rivers, and protect them from predation.

My research investigates whether, by combining small sized sediment into larger agglomerations, caddisfly engineering effects the overall mobility of river sediment and what the consequences of this are for river geomorphology and ecology. The caddisflies shown here represent some of the diverse range of case architectures, including Sericostoma personatum (several different sizes); Anabolia nervosa (using sediment and vegetation) and Limnephilus vitatus (built from snail shells). The small rock is covered with cases of Glossosomatidae.

More about Richard's research