Manly midge

In early March I shared some photos of a female chironomid midge.  I mentioned at the time that I had also captured some photos of a male.  Unfortunately, I then forgot to post the photos.

Until now.

On the same day I took the pictures of the female, I chanced upon a male later in the afternoon who had attached himself to one of the window screens.  There he hung like a small ornament.

As I pointed out originally, these insects are quite docile, so it’s not terribly difficult to get up close to them for some personal photos.  I repeatedly invaded the little fella’s space while he simply lounged in the afternoon sun.

One problem I had not considered given his position, however, was the difficulty of photographing something on the outside of the screen with sunshine behind my back.  If I stayed out of the way of the light, the glass created tremendous reflection bouncing back to the camera.  If I stood in the way of the light to cast a shadow on my subject, too much light passed through the window and it became far too easy to capture background noise in the pictures.  Of course, were I at least somewhat proficient at taking photographs, I doubt any of that would be a real problem.  But I’m not.

Despite the challenges, though, I did get a few respectable shots.

Male chironomid midge (172_7214)

The first thing to note are the plumed antennae.  For this species of insect—not to mention a great many others—that’s a sure sign of gender.  More specifically, it means this is a male.

Male chironomid midge (172_7215)

While it’s difficult to see in these photos due to the insect’s color being so near that of the screen upon which he’s hanging, you might also be able to make out the pincers on the tip of its abdomen.  For many insect species, males use these for mating.  They allow him to grasp and hold the female’s abdomen to better ensure successful copulation.

The very next day as I stood on the patio enjoying my morning coffee, I noticed another midge hanging on the wall.  It too was a male.  The lack of bright light and its position gave me a better opportunity to capture additional details that were too difficult to see in the first set because of the illumination and background.

Male chironomid midge (174_7437)

Again, the plumed antennae are quite obvious on this little gentleman.  That particular view also lends itself to the comparison of these midges with mosquitoes.  The similarities are undeniable, yet these are non-biting insects (unlike some of its cousin midges).

Male chironomid midge (174_7442)

And there you finally get a clearer view of the pincers at the end of its body.

One thing to note is that I’ve yet to successfully identify the species of these little creatures.  I do know they are chironomids (Diptera: Chironomidae).  I also know, due to their large size, they are from the genus Chironomus.  However, because so many chironomid midges look similar and because there are so many native species of them in the area, I’m still having difficulty pinning down an exact identification.

[as originally noted, these insects are around half an inch (about 15 mm) long]

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