There are 6 genera in this family including about 20 species. The larvae are engulfing predators actively search for food, mostly small invertebrates. Members of this family tend to be found in the fastest part of the riffle, among the rocks; however, some species can be found in still water as well. The larvae (hellgrammites) are often preferred as live bait by fishermen due to their high activity and long life on a hook, making them more likely to attract fish. Adults probably do not feed. Males of some species have very long sword-like mandibles used in mating rituals. (Females prefer males with large jaws.)
Upper Midwest: 0 - 6
Midwest: 2.4 - 2.7
Southeast: 5.6 - 5.8
Engulfer / Predator
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Order: Larval wings/wing pads absent. Eye spots present, but compound eyes absent. Segmented legs present on thorax. Abdominal segment 9 with either one slender tail or pair of anal prolegs, each with two hooks. Seven or eight pairs of filaments or gills laterally on abdomen, with never more than one pair per segment.
Family: Abdominal segments 1–8 with paired, 2-segemented, lateral filaments. Abdominal segment 10 has pair of 1-segemented filaments. End of abdomen with pair of anal prolegs, each bearing 2 claws. Mature larvae 30–65 mm long.