Common Name: Midge
Scientific Name: Varies
Description: Adults superficially resemble mosquitoes, but do not bear mouthparts modified for piercing and sucking, antennae of males are hairy, and wings are bare or hairy (mosquito wings bear scales). Species vary in size (3/16 to 3/8 inch long), body color and markings. Aquatic, red-colored larvae of the genus, Chironomus, are called “bloodworms.”
Life Cycle: Females lay eggs in standing water. Larvae develop under water through several stages (instars) before pupating.
Habitat and Food Source(s): Larvae have chewing mouthparts. Larvae are common in standing or flowing water where they are bottom-dwelling scavengers, feeding on organic matter such as algae and decaying plants. They are more abundant in polluted water with excessive algal growth. Some species (Chironomus spp.) construct mud tubes in which they live. Massive emergence of adults can occur at certain times. Adults rest on vegetation during the day and swarm at dusk and dawn (crepuscular behavior). Adults can be attracted to light at night.
Pest Status: Adults can swarm and be locally abundant, becoming a nuisance; generally medically harmless but when very abundant they may get into eyes or ears or can be inhaled. Immature stages are important as food for small fish. The bloodworms sold in the pet trade for fish food are tubifex worms that are not insects but segmented worms.
Literature: Ebeling 1978; James & Harwood 1969.