Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

Photos of insects and people from the 2022 BugGuide gathering in New Mexico, July 20-24

National Moth Week was July 23-31, 2022! See moth submissions.

Photos of insects and people from the Spring 2021 gathering in Louisiana, April 28-May 2

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Photos of insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Previous events


Genus Helicopsyche - Snail-case Caddisflies

Helicopsyche sp. - Helicopsyche Helicopsychidae, Snail-case Caddisfly, Helicopsyche borealis - Helicopsyche Helicopsychidae, Snail-case Caddisfly, Helicopsyche borealis - Helicopsyche Helicopsychidae - Helicopsyche Trichoptera - Helicopsyche borealis Trichoptera - Helicopsyche borealis Helicopsyche Helicopsyche
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Trichoptera (Caddisflies)
Suborder Integripalpia
Infraorder Brevitentoria
Superfamily Sericostomatoidea
Family Helicopsychidae (Snail-case Caddisflies)
Genus Helicopsyche (Snail-case Caddisflies)
Explanation of Names
Helicopsyche von Siebold 1856
7 species in North America (9 species are listed at but two of those (H. annulicornis; arenifera) are synonyms of H. borealis)
the only genus in this family in North America
1 species in Canada (H. borealis)
adult body 5-7 mm
larval case to 7 mm diameter
The spiral "snail shell" shape of the larval case is diagnostic (photo) - as is the strongly curved "J" shape of the larva (photo)

Adults are brownish or mottled, similar to adults of some other families of small caddisflies
most of United States and southern Canada, north to Northwest Territories
also occurs in many warmer regions of the world
larvae usually live in fast-flowing streams and rivers, but also shallow areas of lakes, thermal springs, and deep within the streambed; tolerant of various habitats and a range of water temperatures; larvae often found clustered together on rock surfaces
adults usually found near larval habitat; they are nocturnal and attracted to light
larvae scrape diatoms and detritus from underwater surface of substrate
Synonyms and Distribution
H. borealis (=annulicornis, =arenifera, =californica, =glabra): virtually all of United States and southern Canada, plus Northwest Territories
H. limnella: AR, MO, OK
H. mexicana (=arizonensis): AZ, CA, TX, UT
H. paralimnella: NC, SC
H. piroa (=piora) [misspelling?]: AR, KS, LA, OK, TX
H. pupoidea: ?
H. sinuata: CA
Internet References
"The Helicopyschidae Home Page" includes links to species list, systematics, distribution, photos, description (Swedish Museum of Natural History)
live larva and case images plus description, habitat, and other info (Valley City State U., North Dakota)
larval case image (James Harrington, California Dept. of Fish and Game)
larva and case images of Helicopysche borealis by Cheryl Podemski, plus description and other info (Hugh Clifford, U. of Alberta)
common name reference [Snail-shell Caddisflies] plus photos and overview of Helicopsyche borealis (Wilfred Laurier U., Ontario)
technical description of larva, adult, and genitalia, plus distribution and other info (Government of Canada)
images of larva, case, adult of Helicopsyche species (South Dakota State U.)
distribution in North America list of states/provinces for 6 species (NatureServe Explorer)
world distribution map of Helicopsychidae; the North American area contains only Helicopsyche species (Swedish Museum of Natural History)