Check-list of species

Check-list of genera

Check-list of synonyms

Geographical distribution

Key to families (west palaearctic)

Key to families (afrotropical)

Afrotropical taxa





Caddisflies of the West Palaearctic and Afrotropical regions of Africa

Working documents

Our knowledge of the Trichoptera fauna of the vast African continent was still vanishingly small at the beginning of the last century. In his comprehensive work of 1905 on the geographical distribution of Trichoptera in "ganz Afrika nördlich und südlich vom Äquator, mit Ausnahme der westlichen Mittelmeerländer und vielleicht Südwest-Afrikas und Madagascars" , Ulmer was able to list only 5 publications up to that time: Savigny (1809-1813), Brauer (1875), Kolbe (1898), Ulmer (1904 a,b). "Die Zahl der bisher bekannten Arten ist sehr gering, doch lässt sich kein Gegensatz zwischen Ost- und Westafrika erkennen. Phryganeiden und Limnophiliden fehlen vollständig; auch Sericostomatiden sind noch nicht beschrieben worden, ebensowenig Rhyacophiliden und Hydroptiliden. Es sind also nur Leptoceriden und Hydropsychiden bekannt, von letzteren hauptsächlich Macronematinae: 1 Polymorphanisus, 1 Amphipsyche, 1 Phanostoma, 1 Aethaloptera, ca. 6 Macronema-Arten, 3 Protomacronema-Species; ferner 3 Hydropsyche-Arten, 1 Ecnomus und 4 Dipseudopsis-Arten. Hyalopsyche und Hydropsychodes sind endemisch. Im Hamburger Naturhistorischen Museum befindet sich eine kurzbeinige Hydroptiliden-Larve (von Dr. Stuhlmann in Deutsch-Ost-Afrika gesammelt), deren Gehäuse grosse Ahnlichkeit mit der Hydroptilide Brasiliens aufweist, die Fr. Müller in Fig. 24 abbildet. Im Gebiete kommen demnach sicher Hydroptiliden vor. ......... Die Leptoceriden sind durch 2 Leptocerus-Arten und durch Oecetis vertreten. Von Madagascar kennt man bisher 1 Leptonema, 2 Macronema-Species, 2 Dipseudopsis-Species, von der Insel Mauritius 1 Hydropsyche; über den Charakter der madagassischen Fauna lässt sich z. Zt. also wenig sagen, ebenso wenig über den Süd-Afrikas, von wo nur 1 Molanna-Species (als Gehäuse) bekannt ist."

Caddisfly research received its first major impetus from collections and descriptions of new species from the former European colonial areas, especially those in West and Central Africa (authors such as Banks, Barnard, Jacquemart, Kimmins, Marlier, Mosely, Navas and Ulmer). Since the 1950s the extensive publications of Scott and later of de Moor have greatly expanded our knowledge of the South African species. The wealth of descriptions of new species, genera and even of four new families from this single geographical area shows the enormous potential for undiscovered taxa that undoubtedly still exists in this "dark continent". In recent years, the investigations of Andersen, Gibon, Johanson Kjærandsen, Oláh and Statzner in West Africa and Madagascar have greatly increased the number of new records and new species (see table).

The North African fauna of the Maghreb zone is West Palaearctic in origin. Vaillant, Botosaneanu, Malicky and particularly Dakki have played a significant role in caddis fly research in this area.

Numerous research expeditions by W. Tobias to remote waterbodies in Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal between 1980 and 1996 have brought back an extensive material of caddis flies, which has now been through the process of preliminary sorting for identification. In spite of the large number of recently published taxonomic works on the West African caddis flies, it is not possible to obtain an overview of the published taxa and their synonyms from this region and from neighbouring areas without an extended literature search. For this reason, D. & W. Tobias first began to research the widely scattered identification literature on West Africa and the sub-Sahelian areas, the older items of which are generally difficult to obtain (e.g. the papers by B. Navas). This quickly showed that there is a serious lack of faunistic and taxonomic investigations into the caddis flies of the African continent. The authors took this absence of information as an opportunity to collect together so far as is possible all the relevant literature on the Afrotropical region and to evaluate it from the point-of-view of systematics, taxonomy and zoogeography. This review was enlarged to include trichopterological publications dealing with the West Palaearctic areas of Africa and with the African offshore islands (see Johanson, Randriamasimanana & gibon, Weaver III).

As part of this project, 654 individual papers up to the publication year 2008 were checked for their content. Illustrations relevant for the identification of the adults were scanned, printed and catalogued family by family together with specific data on the described taxa, the authorship, and the geographical distribution or ecological associations. Finally, the documents were stored as text and graphics files in an EDV-database. We did not include descriptions of the larval stages.

Although these literature searches were originally conceived as providing working documents for our own researches, it soon became apparent that this comprehensive catalogue of literature and illustrations should be made generally available rapidly and freely as a working tool for all those interested in working on Trichoptera material from Africa, especially for colleagues in far-distant institutes and without access to large libraries. Placing it on the internet will be the most suitable way of achieving this. The website will include all the species of the current families in a loose sequence. Each page will record the name of the species, its distribution, the best illustrations of its diagnostic characters available in the literature, usually of genital structures, and the appropriate original literature.

This bibliographic reference work containing over 1200 species and subspecies in 28 families and 111 genera makes no claim to be complete. The clarification of problematic systematic questions or synonyms was also not one of its aims.

Deutsche Nationalbibliothek has archived these electronic publication which is now permanently available on the archive server of Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (

All additions and corrections will be gratefully received.