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Ceratopogonidae - Biting-midges, No-see-ums

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NEMATOCERA, Culicomorpha, Chironomoidea

Number of British species: 161

Size: T-S

Difficulty: 3-4


Minute to small (1-5 mm), slender to robust, often dark coloured Nematocera, most capable of piercing (e.g. Dasyhelea not capable), allied to the Chironomidae, but less slender and with broader wings. Ocelli absent; antenna with 13-15 segments which in the male are more or less pubescent. Wing usually clear, in species of some genera with a pattern; usually the R-veins shortened enclosing 1 or 2 small cell(s), and more strongly developed than the other veins. Legs simple, sometimes with ventral spines on femora, especially of the fore leg, spines usually more developed in females.


The larvae of most genera are aquatic, living in wells, brooks, rivers, lakes (recorded as deep as 43 metres below the surface), ponds, pools, water in rot holes in trees, in leaf axils and other small bodies of water with a high content of organic matter; in the foam at the surface of aquariums, etc.; larvae of some species are known from saline waters. Larvae of other genera inhabit more terrestrial habitats such as wet meadows, peat bogs, fenland moist soil, leaf litter, moss, e.g. Sphagnum, under tree bark, in rotting roots and bracket fungi, in exuding tree sap, in drying horse manure and cow dung, in ants nests. The larvae feed on a diversity of food sources; some feed on minute organic particles or micro-organisms, others are predators of insect larvae, worms and small invertebrates. The adults of most species are largely found at a distance from the larval habitats. Adults can occur in large numbers, in particular when evening approaches, but may be active at any time of day in still, humid conditions. The males often fly in swarms. Adults of both sexes feed on flower nectar and honeydew. In some cases, e.g. Dasyhelea, this is the only food source, but usually the females feed on body fluids of insects; those of Culicoides and Forcipomyia (Lasiohelea) feeding on the blood of mammals including humans. This blood serves as a source of protein for egg production. Despite their tiny size, man and animals alike can suffer substantially from “biting-midges”, on account of vast numbers and because they can transmit diseases.


families/nematocera/ceratopogonidae.txt · Last modified: 2008/05/24 17:00 (external edit)     Back to top
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