Oxyethira itascae Monson and Holzenthal, 1993
Basis for Listing
Oxyethira itascae (a purse casemaker caddisfly) was first described in Minnesota in 1993 based on 98 male specimens collected from Clearwater and Hubbard counties in 1988 and 1989 (Monson and Holzenthal 1993; Monson 1994). Most specimens were collected in and around Itasca State Park (Northern Minnesota Drift and Lake Plains). Additional O. itascae populations were found in north-central (Northern Minnesota and Ontario Peatlands) and northeastern (Northern Superior Uplands) Minnesota (Lauren 1999 and 2000; Houghton et al. 2001). Despite these additional collections, further inventory work is still needed to find other populations of this species and delineate its complete range in the state. Oxyethira itascae was listed as a special concern species in Minnesota in 1996.
Caddisfly species can only be identified by examining their abdominal processes under a microscope. Houghton (2012) has developed an identification manual and key to the caddisflies of Minnesota. Macroscopically, adults are about 2.5 mm (0.1 in.) long and have light brown wings. Larvae of Oxyethira are 3-4 mm (0.12-0.16 in.) long with cases flattened, bottle-shaped, and constructed of silk (Wiggins 1996). Larvae and females, specifically, of O. itascae are unknown.
Oxyethira itascae has not been positively correlated with its natal microhabitat. Larvae of Oxyethira have been found in both lakes and streams (Wiggins 1996). Adults of O. itascae have been collected from a variety of ecosystems but seem to prefer meandering silt-bottomed streams. Minnesota populations have not been found near lakes.
Biology / Life History
Adults of this species have been collected in Minnesota from late June to the end of August with peak adult flight probably occurring in mid-July. No other specific life history data are known for this species. Larvae are unknown, but they likely mature throughout the summer and feed by piercing the cells of filamentous algae and consuming the contents (Wiggins 1996).
Conservation / Management
No specific conservation measures or management strategies can be developed for this species until the larval habitat is confirmed. Few data are available on general Oxyethira tolerance to anthropogenic disturbances.
Conservation Efforts in Minnesota
Field surveys in conjunction with a University of Minnesota study on the Caddisflies of Minnesota (Houghton et al. 2001) have been conducted to search for additional populations of this species, and an identification manual and key to Minnesota caddisflies has been developed (Houghton 2012).