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There is a large diversity of caddisflies in the prairie region, especially in the flowing waters. Smith (1984) found 163 species, 61 genera, and 15 families in Saskatchewan if the Boreal Forest is included. In the Saskatchewan River and tributaries, he (Smith 1975) found 38 species in 17 genera representing 8 families and he presented keys and descriptions for them. His work is the basis for the following coverage. Nimmo (1971, 1986, and 1987) should be consulted for the families covered by him, and Wiggins (1996) is very valuable for general but detailed information.
In terms of distribution and ecology, Smith found the richest site in the Saskatchewan River over a several year sampling period was the Birch Hills Ferry site, southeast of Prince Albert but on the South Saskatchewan river, with 22 species, and second was Lemsford Ferry also on the South Saskatchewan river near the Alberta/Saskatchewan border with 19 species.
Larvae make saddle-shaped cases and most are associated with cool clear water and mountain streams. One genus and two species are known from the prairies.
Protoptila Banks is a warm-water genus of Glossosomatids. P. cantha Ross is known from Wyoming and Idaho and the eastern US, and in the prairies is known from Lemsford Ferry only, where it is found in deep water where it is difficult to collect. Protoptila tenebriosa (Walker) is found across North America including the southern states, and was found below Tobin lake only in the Saskatchewan River, but also in the Montreal River and other northern rivers.
Larvae in this and the next family spin silk retreats of various types. On genus from each Family is found in flowing water in the prairies. Larval bodies are mostly membranous except for the head capsule.
Neuriclepsis McLachlan are predacious, capturing prey in their nets. N.bimaculata (Linnaeus) is widespread, and has been collected at Saskatoon and below Tobin Lake. N. crepuscularis (Walker)was found at Lemsford Ferry only.
This family was once part of the Polycentropodidae and one species is found in the prairies.
Psychomyia Pictet usually spin silk tubes which incorporate sand grains, and they are gatherers. P.flavida Hagen is parthenogenic and only the tiny females (4-6 mm) have been collected from the Saskatchewan River system. It is found in northern rivers and also in the sewage outlet area below Saskatoon, at Clarkboro Ferry.
Larvae build loosely constructed retreats of stones and silk and spin nets for collecting organic particles of various types. Many species reach huge populations in mildly polluted areas, and they are one of the most successful families in North America in terms of large populations and wide distribution.
I n the prairies his family is represented by a number of species in two genera .
. Hydropsyche Pictet has six species in the prairies. Hydropsyche bifida Banks is found in the Battle River other small rivers, plus at Birch Hills Ferry and at Fenton Ferry on the South Saskatchewan River, in eutrophic areas. H. bronta Ross is found in northern rivers plus at Lemsford Ferry. H. recurvata Banks is known from northern regions plus is widespread in the Saskatchewan River system, and tolerates sewage near Saskatoon; H, placoda Ross is known from very small numbers but is widespread in the Saskatchewan River. H. occidentalis Banks is common in the northern Boreal and at Lemsford Ferry only in the Saskatchwan River. H. guttatisAuthor is also present.
Cheumatopsyche Wallengren is very similar to Hydropsyche in appearance and habits, and three species are known from the prairies. Cheumatopsyche speciosa (Banks) is widespread but is especially abundant at Birch Hills, Cecil and the Main River. C. lasia Ross is known from Lemsford Ferry only; C. campyla Ross is known from Birch Hills and Gronlid only, and is rare in the river.
These are the “micro” caddisflies, being less than 6 mm in length. Four genera are known from the prairies.
Agraylia Curtis is represented by A. multipunctata Curtis and is known from Birch Hills Ferry on the South Saskatchwan river. The species is circumpolar.
Hydroptila Dalman is represented by four species. H. spatulata Morton is found at Birch Hills, Fenton, and Cecil Ferries, and at Saskatoon. H. ajax Ross is widespread in the Saskatchewan River system including Lemsford Ferry. H. consimilis Morton is common and abundant, and was found Saskatoon to Weldon Ferry and also in the North Saskatchwan River; H. angusta Ross is widespread in the Saskathwan River System.
Neotrichia Morton is represented by two species. N. halia Denning is known from Lemsford Ferry and the Battle river; N. ersitis Denning is known from Lemsford Ferry and Saskatoon is the type locality.
Mayatrichia Mosely is represented by one species. M. ayama Mosely is known form Birch Hills and Lemsford Ferry.
This family contains some of the largest caddisflies and larval cases are often made of neat spirals of cut plant fragments. One genus and species is present.
Phryagnea Linnaeus has two species in North America, and P. cineria Walker has been found on vegetation mats in the river at Saskatoon.
These are common and abundant case building caddisflies that are found in both lentic and lotic waters. The family has more than 300 species in North America. Three species representing three genera are considered here.
Onocosmoecus Banks is found in both flowing and still water. O. unicolor (Banks) was found in the North Saskatchewan river at Hwy 5. Anabolia Stephens is usually found in bogs and marshes, but A. bimaculata (author)was found in heavy plant growths at the rivers edge in low water years, at Saskatoon and Cecil Ferry. Asynarchus McLachlan is known from northern rivers, and A. curtus (Banks) is usually found in sloughs but was taken at Nipawin in the Saskatchewan River.
The family has about 100 species in North America and larvae make a wide variety of tube cases, each type specific to a genus or species. They range from swimmers to clingers and food habits range from herbivores to predators. Antennae on adults are often vey long.
Arthripsodes Billberg is represented by three species. A. tarsi-punctatus (Vorhies) is widespread in rivers and streams in the prairies and was especially abundant at Borden and Birch Hills Ferries. A. annulicornis (Stephens) is also widespread in the prairies and is associated with Birch Hills and Gronlid Ferries. A. arielles Denning was found at Birch Hills Ferry and below Tobin Lake on the Main Saskatchewan River, at Saskatoon, and near many other streams and rivers in the prairies.
Oecetes McLachlan make cases that are a tapered curved tube, often incorporating sand or plant fragments. O.avara (Banks) is associated with deep fast water and it is widespread. O. inconspicua (Walker) was found at Saskatoon only.
Triaenodes McLachlan are swimmers with a long case of spirally arranged leaf fragments. T. frontalis Banks is widespread in the Saskatchewan river and elsewhere in the prairies.
Nectopsyche Muller build long cases of plant material and the case may incorporate large balance sticks. N. diarina Ross are associated with vegetation mats and are widespread. N. intervena (Banks) is also widespread. N. exquisita (Walker) was found only at The Pas, Manitoba, outside of the prairie region.
This family is represented by one genus. Brachycentris Curtis is characterized by square sided cases. Larvae are filter feeders, using setae on the legs. B. occidentalis Banks is widespread.