Developmental trade–offs in resource allocation across life–history stages and between different body parts are predicted by life–history theories. However, there is very little empirical evidence that these occur. We investigated these trade–offs in caddis flies by experimentally manipulating larval case construction and thereby silk expenditure. Case building diverts protein resources away from larval stores, which are of major importance to adult development in species with little or no adult feeding. We induced fifth–instar Odontocerum albicorne to build new cases and examined the consequences for the morphology of the resulting adults. Rebuilding did not alter larval food consumption or the date of entering pupation, but shortened the duration of the pupal period. Adults that had been induced to expend more silk as larvae had lighter thoraces and smaller wings than the controls, but their abdomens did not differ significantly in mass or nitrogen content. These results suggest a trade–off between larval silk production and the pattern of resource allocation within the adult. The maintenance of the abdomen is likely to preserve reproductive potential, while the reduction in thoracic and wing investment will have negative consequences for flight and associated activities, and possibly for adult longevity.