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Life in Freshwater

Midges - Phantom Midge (Genus Chaoborus)

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Phantom Midge larva
Phantom Midge larva with the head to the left and the fan of bristles just visible beneath the abdomen tip on the right

Just over half a centimetre, these midges are pale brown and swarm over and around lakes and ponds. They do not bite. The wings, which lie flat to the body are shorter in the male which also has plumed antennae (better able to detect the female).

The larvae (10-12 mm) live in water and are very distinctive as they are almost completely transparent and lie horizontally in the water. When disturbed, like other midges they wriggleflicking the body in half. Beneath teh abdomenthere is a fan of bristles whilst the head has a prehensile antenna (see below).

Very abundant in static water from small ponds to large lakes.

ECOLOGY: A fascinating larval form with many adaptations. To feed it lies horizontally still in the water and because it is transparent the body blends into the background. To hold it steady so that it does not sink there are two air bags constructed from two expanded tracheal tubes. These hydrostatic organs keep the body suspended perfectly in the water. (see photo above). To catch the prey such as small water crustaceans like water fleas it has a prehesile antenna.

Head of midge with prehensile antenna
Head of midge with prehensile antenna, top left. The yellow gut ends in the middle of the photo with the jaws just visible below the compaound eye

The upper antenna traps the prey against the other antenna so that the jaws can eat the prey. By day it often lies near the bottom of the lake rising later in the day. The midge adults lay egg masses on the surface (up to several hundred eggs incased in jelly). The pupa forms in the water, floating to the surface to emerge after about 4 days. Larva and adults are important food for fish.

See also Midges (Chironomids and Black Fly) and Mosquitoes










Diptera - true flies

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