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Free-living caddis (Zelandoptila)

Taxonomic group

Ecnomidae: Zelandoptila

Diagnostic features

The ecnomid caddisfly larvae have hardening (sclerotisation) on each of the 3 thoracic segments. Unlike the hydropsychids, there are no gills under the abdomen. In Zelandoptila the thoracic sclerotisation is more complete and darkly pigmented than in the related Ecnomina.

Typical habitats

They are most likely to be found (though usually in low abundance) in bush-covered gravelly streams.


Zelandoptila larvae are thought to be predators, feeding on other stream invertebrates.

Indicator value

  • Hard bottom: 8
  • Soft bottom: 7

The tolerance values (ranging from 0 to 10) give an indication of which are the sensitive taxa (values of 8 or more) and which are the tolerant taxa (values of 3 or less). For more information see: Indicator species

Zelandoptila larvae can be an indication of good water quality, particularly if they are found along with a range of mayfly and stonefly taxa. They have tolerance values of 8 (hard bottom sites) and 7 (soft bottom sites).