Chironomid midge

As temperatures rise and plants bloom, insect populations likewise begin to blossom.  That includes these little devils: Chironomid midges.

I found this one on the patio a few days ago and decided to play with the camera in an attempt to capture a few presentable photographs.  And boy howdy!  Look what I got.

But before we get to that, let me tell you what I know and what I don’t know.

This is a non-biting insect despite its superficial resemblance to mosquitoes (there are biting midges; this just isn’t one of them).  I’ve not been able to identify its exact species because so many of these insects look alike.  Still, I’m 99% sure it’s a chironomid (Diptera: Chironomidae).  Likewise, it’s a large species and probably from the genus Chironomus, but I’m unable to provide a specific species identification because I still don’t know it—yet.  Because they swarm and most species are quite small, you might know this insect and its brethren by their more common name: gnats.  Surprised, aren’t you?  I was too.  I don’t think all midges are gnats or all gnats are midges (although I could be wrong), but the two are confused with each other on a regular basis—especially when they swarm.

This particular species is common in this area and I see them quite often.  They’re extremely docile.  That worked well for me since I totally invaded this bug’s space while trying to take photographs.  It didn’t seem to mind and never moved despite how close I got to it, and even the camera’s flash and proximity didn’t bother it.  That helped.

The photographs below are of a female.  I was able to get some respectable shots of a male just this afternoon and will share them with you at a later date.

How do I know it’s a female?  One: It doesn’t have pincers at the end of its abdomen.  Two: Its antennae are not plumed (furry).  There you have it: It’s a female.

I’d like to say I’m thrilled with the quality of these photos.  I ran across this little critter just after dusk.  The sun had fallen below the horizon, so it was providing only enough light to see shadows and shapes without details.  Nevertheless, with a little luck and the flashy box, I captured some (IMHO) impressive photos.  But why don’t you be the judge.

So now that I’ve bored you to tears with all sorts of meaningless gibberish about bugs and whatnot, let’s get to the pictures, eh?  I agree.

What you’ll notice is that she’s holding her front legs out in front her.  From what I discovered while investigating them, I believe that’s a hunting posture.  Then again, maybe they’re trying to pick up satellite television (for all I really know about them).

A female chironomid midge hanging on the patio wall (171_7168)
A female chironomid midge hanging on the patio wall (171_7166)
A female chironomid midge hanging on the patio wall (171_7181)

Note that she was slightly more than half an inch (about 15 mm) from stem to stern.  That’s from the top of her head to the bottom tip of her abdomen.  I measured her with a ruler just as I did with the male I photographed today.  That’s not counting their antennae.

Gosh, I really like bugs.

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