Environment and Conservation
5:37 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Biologists Study Rare Tennessee Insect

Sequatchie Caddisflies photographed against a biologist's hand, for scale.
Sequatchie Caddisflies photographed against a biologist's hand, for scale.
Credit Tennessee's Wild Side/TRC Media

 It's a flying insect that measure only one inch in length, and exists in only one place on Earth. Yet the Sequatchie Caddisfly looms large for biologists who are gathering data in an effort to determine whether or not the species will survive much longer.

Starting late last month, biologists from federal and state agencies in Kentucky and Tennessee began to gather in Marion County, just west of Chattanooga, for a first-of-its-kind census to estimate the caddisfly's population. They'll count the number of caddisflies found in a small area, then apply the results to the whole known habitat, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Sequatchie Caddisfly, first described in 1999, has seen its habitat severely reduced over the years, and now there is some concern the species might disappear altogether. Federal authorities established a 2016 deadline to find out more about the caddisflies and what, if anything, might be done to save them.

If the current census reveals a very small population, the numbers may be used as justification to protect the Sequatchie Caddisfly as an endangered species.