British Insects: the Families of Diptera


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Midges, Non-biting Midges, Blood-worms.

Adult insects. Very small to medium-sized; slender-bodied; stilt-legged (notably the fore-legs). Antennae 8–16 segmented; ‘simple’ (hairy, and usually plumose in males); not aristate. Ocelli absent. Eyes rounded, well separated. Mouthparts functional (poorly developed), or non-functional; when operational, non-piercing. Mandibles absent. The maxillary palps 3–5 segmented; drooping. Thorax without a continuous dorsal suture (without the V-shaped suture Tipulidae). Wing veins reaching the margin 6–8 (with vein 2 faint or vestigial, and never with a forked vein 4). Wings mostly without a discal cell; without a sub-apical cell; without a closed anal cell. The costa not extending around the entire wing. Sub-costa apparent; terminating blind (but long). The leading edge veins markedly stronger than the rest to not noticeably stronger than the rest. Wing vein 4 not forked. Wings with the lower calypter much reduced or absent; patterned, or unpatterned.

Larvae and pupae. The larvae aquatic; phytophagous, or saprophagous; eucephalic. The pupae without a puparium (the last larval skin remaining attached to the posterior segments).

Comments. Delicate, gnat-like flies, often with the head overhung by the humped thorax; wings narrow, usually held apart at rest. The males frequently dancing in swarms, especially near water.

Classification. Suborder Nematocera; Division Culicomorpha; Superfamily Chironomoidea.

British representation. 588 species in Britain. Genera about 140; with a few genera - Chironomus, Cricotopus, Limnophyes, Metriocnemus, Paratanytarsus, Tanytarsus, etc. - represented by many species, but most by few.

Illustrations. • Ablabesmyia, Chironomus, Clunio, Diamesa, Harnischia, Potthastia (from Walker). • Macropelopia nebulosa (Clouded-winged Midge: B. Ent. 501). • Macropelopia nebulosa (detail: B. Ent. 501). • Macropelopia nebulosa (dissections: B. Ent. 501). • Macropelopia nebulosa (B. Ent. 501, legend+text). • Macropelopia nebulosa: B. Ent. 501, text cont.. • Eurycnemus crassipes (Bentleyan Midge: B. Ent. 090). • Eurycnemus crassipes: B. Ent. 090, legend+text. • Eurycnemus crassipes: B. Ent. 090, text cont.. • cf. Cladopelma viridulum, male: as Chironomus viridulus, Stephens 1846.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. British insects: the families of Diptera. Version: 1st January 2012.’.