Sciaridae - Black fungus-gnats

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Classification

NEMATOCERA, Bibionomorpha, Sciaroidea

Number of British species: 156

Size: S

Difficulty: 3-5

Characters

Delicate, often black or rarely black and yellow to orange coloured Nematocera, minute to medium sized (1-6 mm, rarely up to 10 mm). Ocelli present; eyes usually with an eye bridge; antenna with 16 simple segments. Wing clear, in some cases tinged; wing venation rather constant: Costa ending in between R4+5 and M1, the only crossveins present are H and R-M; vein M forked at about half its length; CuA1 and CuA2 with a basal stem. Legs relatively long, tibiae with apical bristles or spurs.

Biology

The larvae are largely terrestrial but restricted mainly to wet habitats. They are an important faunal element in soil and litter layers, but can also be found in dead wood, excrement, mushrooms, bracket fungi etc.; a number of species develop in semi-aquatic habitats. Larvae of Sciaridae mainly feed on mycelium. A limited number of species feed on living plant tissues such as roots or, as miners, leaves and stems, or live in mushrooms and bracket fungi. Some species are pests in forestry, horticulture and agriculture, mainly in mushroom culture and in glasshouses. The larvae of some species inhabit caves, others live in colonies of social insects. Larvae may occur in very high densities; massive processions of 2 to 10 metres in length so-called “army worms”, are well-documented. The adults are found in a wide range of habitats as well, mainly near the larval habitat. They are often found indoors, in which case they probably hatched from larvae that developed in potting soil of indoor plants.

Identification

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