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Karl Kjer
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taxon links extinct icon extinct icon extinct icon extinct icon Not Monophyletic[down<--]Sericostomatoidea Interpreting the tree
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Containing group: Sericostomatoidea


The family was established by Stephens (1836) as Sericostomidae (later emended by McLachlan 1874 to Sericostomatidae). As presently constituted the family contains 19 genera and only 100 or so species. The distribution of these genera is cosmopolitan, except for Australia, New Zealand, and their biogeographically associated islands, but the genera are for the most part restricted within their regions. In Africa, the family occurs only in South Africa where 5 endemic genera occur (Aclosma Morse, Aselas Barnard, Cheimacheramus Barnard, Petroplax Barnard, and Rhoixema Barnard, the later also recently described from Madagascar). In the Neotropics, the genera are endemic to southern Chile and adjacent Argentina (Chiloecia Navás, Myotrichia Schmid, Notidobiella Schmid, and Parasericostoma Schmid) and to southern and southeastern Brazil and adjacent Argentina (Grumicha Müller). In North America, 2 genera are endemic to the eastern half of the continent (Agarodes Banks and Fattigia Ross) and 1 genus, Gumaga Tsuda occurs in the western portion of the region. Gumaga is also found in the Oriental region where a genus endemic to India also occurs (Asahaya Schmid). Five genera occur in the western Palaearctic region from northern and southern Europe, northern Africa, east to the Caucasus, Iran, and the Arabian peninsula (Cerasma McLachlan, Notidobia Stephens, Oecismus McLachlan, Schizopelex McLachlan, and Sericostoma Latreille). In addition to the 19 genera formally assigned to the family, several additional anomalous genera are known within the superfamily Sericostomatoidea that have not been assigned to a family. For completeness of coverage, these genera are: Ceylanopsyche Fischer from Sri Lanka, Karomana Schmid from India, Mpuga Schmid from India, Ngoya Schmid from India, and Seselpsyche Malicky from the Seychelles. Schmid (1993) and Malicky (1993) discuss the status of these enigmatic genera. Taken from Holzenthal et al. (2007a).


The larvae of Sericostomatidae build tubular, strongly to slightly curved and tapered cases of sand grains or of silk alone. In Brazil, the long, slender silken cases of Grumicha were used as adornments by the Tupí-Guarani Indians. Sericostomatid larvae inhabit streams and lakes, the latter especially in temperate regions; they often burrow in sandy deposits. The primary food source is leaf litter detritus. Males of many species have modified antennal scapes with scent scales or scent glands, eversible glands on the face, or mask-like maxillary  palps, or a combination of these. Taken from Holzenthal et al. (2007a).

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

Over the years, the family has been used as a “dumping ground” for genera unable to be placed with confidence in other families. Fischer (1970) listed 26 genera in Sericostomatidae and stated, “Several of these genera may belong to the Lepidostomatidae, a few others probably to the Beraeidae. For some of the genera from the Australian region one or more subfamilies will have to be created.” In fact, all of the Australian genera once included in Sericostomatidae have been moved to other families, most newly created for them (e.g., Antipodoeciidae, Conoesucidae, Tasimiidae), such that the family no longer occurs in the Australasian region. In other regions, other families were established for genera originally described in Sericostomatidae (e.g., Anomalopsychidae from the Neotropics, Barbarochthonidae from South Africa).   Taken from Holzenthal et al. (2007a).
Holzenthal et al. (2007b) find the family to be polyphyletic, with Rhiozema, Petroplax, Gumaga, Agarodes, and Sericostoma forming one strongly supported group, and Myotrichia and Parasericostoma weakly grouping in another.  However, very few of the relationships among Sericostomatoids were supported with any confidence in Holzenthal et al. (2007b).  


Fischer, F.C.J. (1970) Philanisidae, Lepidostomatidae, Brachycentridae, Beraeidae, Sericostomatidae, Thremmatidae, Helicopsychidae. Trichopterorum Catalogus 11. Nederlandsche Entomologische Vereeniging, Amsterdam, vi + 316 pp.

Holzenthal R.W., Blahnik, R.J., Prather, A.L., and Kjer K.M. 2007a. Order Trichoptera Kirby 1813 (Insecta), Caddisflies. In: Zhang, Z.-Q., and Shear, W.A. (Eds). 2007 Linneaus Tercentenary: Progress in Invertebrate Taxonomy. Zootaxa. 58 pp. 1668:639-698

Holzenthal R.W., Blahnik, R.J., Kjer K.M and Prather, A.L. 2007b. An update on the phylogeny of Caddisflies (Trichoptera). Proceedings of the XIIth International Symposium on Trichoptera. Bueno-Soria, R. Barba-Alvearz and B. Armitage (Eds). pp. 143-153. The Caddis Press.

Malicky, H. (1993) Three new caddisflies from Mahe Island, Seychelles. Braueria, 20, 1921.

Schmid, F. (1993) Quatre genres de trichopt_res forlignants. Fabreries, 18, 3748.

Stephens, J.F. (1836) Illustrations of British Entomology; or a Synopsis of Indigenous Insects: Containing their Generic and Specific Distinctions; with an Account of their Metamorphoses, Times of Appearance, Localities, Food, and Economy, as far as Practicable. Mandibulata. Vol. VI. [Trichoptera, pages 146208]. Baldwin and Cradock, London, 240 pp.

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About This Page

Karl Kjer
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Karl Kjer at

Page: Tree of Life Sericostomatidae. Authored by Karl Kjer. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Kjer, Karl. 2010. Sericostomatidae. Version 20 July 2010 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Sericostomatidae/14639/2010.07.20 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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