Monday, September 17, 2012

Midges- part two

I would like to expand upon my midge post from last week.  I received an email that suggested that I clarify some finer points of the label "midge" and I agree that it is a good idea.  While I tagged the post with Chironomid, I didn't mention it specifically in the blog post itself and I should have.  So come along for a taxonomy tour.

There are biting midges and non-biting midges.  Last week's post was about non-biting midges.  While all midges are in the order Diptera (which includes flies, mosquitoes and midges), the biting midges fall into the Ceratopogonidae family and the non-biting midges fall into the Chironomidae family (click on links to see images).

Ceratopogonids are called biting midges, but more often around here, no-see-ums.  No-see-ums can cause painful bites to people who spend time outdoors.  Bites may cause painful lesions for some.  Adults are gray and tiny (less than 1/8 an inch long) with long antennae and well-developed mouthparts.  Only the females take a blood meal.

It is also possible for Chironmid midges to get confused with the Culicidae family (which are the mosquitoes).  Both groups are delicate looking insects with slender bodies and long legs.  Both Chironomid and mosquito males have feathery antennae, so may look very similiar.  Mosquitoes have an elongated proboscis (mouthpart) and scales on the veins of their wings which helps to differentiate them from other insects in the order Diptera.

Hope that clarifies a bit more of what a midge may and may not be.  As always, if you ever have a question on identification of an insect, collect a sample and either send it to me or take it to your local Extension office.

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