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Trichoptera: Phryganeidae of Gunnison County, Colorado

Agrypnia deflata
Giant Case Maker Caddisflies

(Milne) 1931
Updated 12 May 2017
TSN 188492
First or second instar of an Agrypnia deflata larvae

The top photo is a first or second instar larval case built from Isoetes fragments, pine needles and a spruce bud scale. The spiral shape of the case is starting to be visible. The larvae is hidden from view. Note the adult Dipteran built into its case.

Good Links

Other Websites:
Photos, Map, Museum specimens, DNA - Barcodinglife.org

University of Alberta Entomology Collection Species page
     Has illustration of male genitalia, description, habitat information, range and more.

Key to adult Agrypnia

The last two photos are from a subalpine pond in the Elk Mountains in August of 2011. The empty pupal case was netted out of the muck in the bottom of a permanent pond.

The last photo is a larvae or pupae partially buried in the bottom sediment. The aquatic plants nearby are a quillwort, Isoetes bolanderi.


Curtis, J 1835 British Entomology being Illustrations and Descriptions of the Genera of Insects found in Great Britain and Ireland Containing Coloured Figure from Nature of the Most Rare and Beautiful Species, and in Many Instances of the Plants Upon Which They are Found. Richard Taylor, London. vol. XII, 530-577.
     Curtis describes the genus Agrypnia in this paper.

Jannot,JE; Bruneau,E and Wissinger,SA 2007 Effects of larval energetic resources on life history and adult allocation patterns in a caddisfly (Trichoptera: Phryganeidae). Ecological Entomology, 32(4), 376-383. Abstract

McCullagh,BS; Wissinger,SA and Marcus,JM 2015 Identifying PCR primers to facilitate molecular phylogenetics in Caddisflies (Trichoptera). Zoological Systematics, 40(4) 459 PDF

Milne, L. J. 1931. Three new Canadian Prophryganea (Phryganeidae, Trichoptera). Canadian Entomologist 63
     Original description as Prophryganea deflata

Wiggins,GB 1998 The Caddisfly Family Phryganeidae (Trichoptera). University of Toronto Press, Toronto Buffalo London.

Wissinger, SA 2004 Population fluctuations in caddisflies inhabiting high-elevation wetlands in central Colorado . Presented at the NABS Annual meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia, in Population Ecology 2 Abstract

Wissinger, S.A., W.S. Brown, and J.E. Jannot. 2003 Caddisfly life histories along permanence gradients in high altitude wetlands in Colorado (U.S.A.). Freshwater Biology 48(2). PDF

Wissinger,SA; Eldermire,C and Whissel,JC 2005 The role of larval cases in reducing aggression and cannibalism among caddisflies in temporary wetlands. Wetlands 24(4) 777-783. PDF
     Abstract: " Larvae of wetland caddisflies supplement their detrital diets with animal material. In some species this supplement is obtained by preying on other caddisflies. In this study, we conducted a series of laboratory experiments to a) compare intraspecific aggression and the propensity for cannibalism among six caddisfly species that occur along a gradient from vernal to autumnal to permanent high-elevation wetlands, and b) determine the importance of cases in preventing or reducing cannibalism and intraguild predation. We predicted that cannibalism and overall levels of aggression should be highest in species that occur in temporary habitats. We found that all of the species that use temporary habitats (Asynarchus nigriculus ,Hesperophylax occidentalis, Limnephilus externus, Limnephilus picturatus, Limnephilus secludens) were extremely aggressive towards and cannibalized conspecifics without cases. Species that typically occur in short-duration temporary wetlands were more aggressive than those in long-duration temporary wetlands. Cases prevented cannibalism in four of these temporary-habitat species, and reduced cannibalism among Asynarchus larvae. The latter species occurs in extremely ephemeral habitats where cannibalism provides a dietary supplement that probably facilitates emergence before drying. Asynarchus also preys on Limnephilus spp., and we found that cases dramatically reduced vulnerability to intraguild predation. Larvae of Agrypnia deflata, a species that occurs only in permanent wetlands, were least aggressive and rarely cannibalized conspecifics. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that intraspecific aggression and the potential for cannibalism are highest in species that live in habitats with developmental time constraints. Many wetland invertebrates face developmental time constraints and selection for aggression in temporary habitats should be especially strong for taxa that rely on animal material to supplement a mainly detrital diet."

Wissinger, S.A., J. Whissel, C. Eldermire, and W. Brown. 2006 Predator defense along a permanence gradient: roles of case structure, behavior, and developmental phenology in caddisflies, Oecologia, Pages 1 - 12. Abstract      Pdf Icon (311 KB)

Brown,WS 2005 Trichoptera of Gunnison County, Colorado, USA