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Midge (Chironomus spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Midge

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Image Credit: Dave E., taken in Swaledale, IA
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Despite the striking similarity, Midges in the Chironomidae family do not bite like the pesky mosquitoes they so closely resemble.

Updated: 04/05/2024; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Midges are often mistaken for mosquitoes thanks to similar size and body shape. Because they do not take blood meals, they are also known as Blind Mosquitoes. Male Midges tend to have feathery antennae, something not seen on mosquitoes. Also, midges rest with their two front legs hovering above the surface, whereas mosquitoes lift their hind legs.

Midges can be found along the coast, shorelines, and banks of any body of water. Lakes and ponds often see huge congregations of them. Thanks to poor flying ability, they are at the mercy of wind currents and can be blown into backyards. For this reason, they may be considered a nuisance to homeowners. They like to take shelter under soffits, eaves, and covered patios. They also seem to be attracted to artificial lights at night and many homes are also lit in those places which can be a nuisance. Large groups may congregate; this in turn may attract Midges predators like spiders to those areas. Adult Midges have very short life spans (only a few days) so their presence is not permanent.

Eggs are laid in shallow waters. Worm-like larvae hatch and serve two good roles in the ecosystem: as a cleaner (consumer) of decaying organic matter in the water, and as a food source to other aquatic insects and fish. Adults do not feed and spend their short lives focused on reproduction.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Chironomidae
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          Genus: Chironomus
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Chironomus spp.
Other Name(s): Blind Mosquitoes, Fuzzy Bills
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 1mm to 3mm (0.03" to 0.11")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow; brown; black; white; gray
Descriptors: mosquito; feathery; long; slow; small

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 1mm (0.0in) and 3mm (0.1in)
Lo: 1mm
Md: 2mm
Hi: 3mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Midge may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Midge. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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