Midges

A sixteenth-inch-long female biting midge (Culicoides sonorensis) feeds blood delivered through artificial membrane developed for mass insect rearing. Photo by Scott Bauer. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Culicoides_sonorensis.jpg. Public domain 23/03/10
A sixteenth-inch-long female biting midge (Culicoides sonorensis) feeds blood delivered through artificial membrane developed for mass insect rearing. Photo by Scott Bauer

Midges comprise many kinds of very small two-winged flies. The term does not encapsulate a well-defined taxonomic group, but includes animals in several families of Nematoceran Diptera. The habits of midges vary greatly among the component families, which include:

  • Blephariceridae, net-winged midges
  • Cecidomyiidae, gall midges
  • Ceratopogonidae, biting midges (also known as no-see-ums or punkies in North America)
  • Chaoboridae, phantom midges
  • Chironomidae, non-biting midges (also known as muffleheads in the Great Lakes region of North America)
  • Deuterophlebiidae, mountain midges
  • Dixidae, meniscus midges
  • Scatopsidae, dung midges
  • Thaumaleidae, solitary midges

Disease-spreading midges

The Ceratopogonidae (biting midges) are serious biting pests, and can spread the livestock diseases Blue Tongue and African Horse Sickness but the other midge families are not. Most midges, apart from the gall midges (Cecidomyiidae), are aquatic during the larval stage. Some Cecidomyiidae (e.g., the sorghum midge) are significant plant pests. The larvae of some Chironomidae contain haemoglobin and are sometimes referred to as bloodworms.