Orthotrichia aegerfasciella Chambers, Oxyethira forcipata Moseley, and Oxyethira pallida (Banks) are microcaddisflies (Trichoptera: Hydroptilidae) that commonly co-occur spatially and temporally. The larvae are algal feeders that specialize on Chlorophyta; O. aegerfasciella was reared on Cladophora, O. pallida was reared on Spirogyra and Zygnema, and a partial rearing of O. forcipata was obtained using Zygnema. Larvae used specialized asymmetrical mandibles to simultaneously grasp and puncture the walls of individual cells before sucking the contents out. Hypermetamorphosis occurred, and the final instars of both genera constructed cases of oral secretions only. Orthotrichia aegerfasciella early instars had unique tubercles on the notal setal areas, but these were absent in the fifth instar. The contention that Orthotrichia larvae lack a ventral projection on the fore tibia, a character present in other taxa that feed on filamentous algae, is incorrect. The fore tibia of O. aegerfasciella bears a ventral projection, and the projection possesses a pair of spurs similar to those in other algivorous Hydroptilidae. Also, the pointed labrum of this species does not aid in algal feeding. These observations contradict prior statements that Orthotrichia ancestors were predaceous because it was incorrectly assumed that they lack the apparatus for grasping algal filaments and have a labrum modified to aid their feeding habits. Orthotrichia aegerfasciella overwinters as a semiactive fifth instar. Oxyethira pallida fifth instars can be differentiated morphologically from the larvae of other described Oxyethira spp. based on mandible morphology, leg length, and coxal morphology. Larvae seal their cases in preparation for overwintering, overwinter as inactive fifth instars attached to stable substrates, and pupate during late spring.
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Vol. 95 • No. 5