Random Insect: Common midge

Male common midge (family Chironomidae, possibly of the genus Chironomus) photographed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Flies (order Diptera) can be divided into two large groups, the Brachycera and the Nematocera.  The latter group includes mosquitoes (family Culicidae) and many other flies that resemble mosquitoes.  Among these mosquito-like flies are the common midges (family Chironomidae).

Male common midge (family Chironomidae, possibly of the genus Chironomus) photographed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

There are a few obvious (and many more not-so-obvious) differences between adult midges and mosquitoes.  First, midges lack the long proboscis of mosquitoes and they don’t bite (they may not even eat).  Second, midges have long front legs, and many often rest with their front legs in the air.  Mosquitoes normally rest with their hind legs in the air.  Finally, midges lack scales along their wing veins, a trait that is indicative of mosquitoes.

Female common midge (family Chironomidae) photographed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Like mosquitoes, midges have worm-like aquatic larvae.  Some midge larvae contain hemoglobin and appear red, and are commonly known as bloodworms.  The larvae of many species are highly tolerant to polluted water with low dissolved oxygen, and their abundance can indicate poor water conditions.  They’re quite common along the lower River Raisin in southeast Michigan, which is subjected to significant agricultural runoff and combined sewer overflows.

Advertisements

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Entomology, Random Insect and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Random Insect: Common midge

  1. Pingback: Random Insect: Another common midge | The Life of Your Time

  2. Sharon Chester says:

    A very nice account of chironomids with excellent photos.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s