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Life in Freshwater

Plumed Midges - Chironomus spp

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Chironomus Midge larva
Larva of a Chironomid midge with red pigment

The name plumed midge or gnat comes from the fact that the adult males have very feathery antennae for finding the female. They are long legged, delicate looking midges which do not bite. The thorax is very broad and projects forward over the head. There are 1500 different species of Chironomid, widespread across Europe in area where there is water - usually static. They may form the dominate life in a pond. However, they may use tiny pools of water in which to develop.

ECOLOGY: This is a very important group of midges. They do not bite but are an essential food resource for aquatic predators. The larvae can live in a very diverse range of watery habitats including small puddles in fields. To give some protection from drying up the larvae produce slimy mud tubes. They can live in water with very low oxygen content. Under these conditions they can manufacture the red blood pigment haemoglobin - unique as it is believed to be the only insect that can do this. The haemoglobin is used to absorb what little oxygen becomes available and stores it until required. Hence, they are also called blood-worms.

See also Midges (Phantom and Black Fly) and Mosquitoes











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