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A biting midge feeding on blood through an artificial membrane for insect rearing
Scientific classification

A midge is any small fly, including species in several families of non-mosquito Nematoceran Diptera. Midges are found (seasonally or otherwise) on practically every land area outside permanently arid deserts and the frigid zones. Some midges, such as many Phlebotominae (sand fly) and Simuliidae (black fly), are vectors of various diseases. Many others play useful roles as prey for insectivores, such as various frogs and swallows. Others are important as detritivores, and form part of various nutrient cycles. The habits of midges vary greatly from species to species, though within any particular family, midges commonly have similar ecological roles.

Examples of families that include species of midges include:[1]


The Ceratopogonidae (biting midges) include serious blood-sucking pests, feeding both on humans and other mammals. Some of them spread the livestock diseases blue tongue and African horse sickness – other species though, are at least partly nectar feeders, and some even suck insect bodily fluids.[8]

Many midges are known for having symbiotic relationships with many other organisms. These can be commensal, parasitic or mutualistic relationships. Many of the commensal relationships are found within the family Chironomidae.[9]

A midge in the family Ceratopogonidae sitting on the femorotibial joint of the front right leg of a mantis, sucking its hemolymph while the mantis feeds on a bee

Other ceratopogonid midges are major pollinators of Theobroma cacao (cocoa tree). Having natural pollinators has beneficial effects in both agricultural and biological products because it increases crop yield and also density of predators of the midges (still beneficial to all parties).[10]

The term "midge" is a vague term that refers to a large and diverse group of organisms. Although many are known as "bloodsuckers," there are many different roles that they play in their respective ecosystems.[9] There is, for example, no objective basis for excluding the Psychodidae from the list, and some of them (or midge-like taxa commonly included in the family, such as Phlebotomus) are blood-sucking pests and disease vectors.

Most midges, apart from the gall midges (Cecidomyiidae), are aquatic during the larval stage. Some Cecidomyiidae (e.g., the Hessian fly) are considered significant pests of some plant species. The larvae of some Chironomidae contain hemoglobin and are sometimes referred to as bloodworms.[11]

Non-biting midge flies are commonly considered a minor nuisance around artificially-created bodies of water.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Merritt, R. W.; Cummins, K. W., eds. (1996). An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
  2. ^ BugGuide
  3. ^ "BITING MIDGES OR "SANDFLIES" IN THE NT" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-22. Retrieved 2015-01-22.
  4. ^ "The Complete Guide to Midges". 5 July 2021. Retrieved 2023-06-21.
  5. ^ "Bug invasion! Muckleheads caught on radar swarming back to NE Ohio". fox8.com. 2018-06-04. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  6. ^ "What exactly are all these pesky midges? Entertaining video on the insects that swarm Lake Erie". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  7. ^ "Why you should never smash lake flies and other facts about the annual Lake Winnebago insect hatch". Appleton Post Crescent. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  8. ^ Weaving, Alan; Picker, Mike; Griffiths, Charles Llewellyn (2003). Field Guide to Insects of South Africa. New Holland Publishers, Ltd. ISBN 1-86872-713-0.
  9. ^ a b TOKESHI, MUTSUNORI (June 1993). "On the evolution of commensalism in the Chironomidae". Freshwater Biology. 29 (3): 481–489. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2427.1993.tb00782.x. ISSN 0046-5070.
  10. ^ Forbes, Samantha J.; Northfield, Tobin D. (2016-12-26). "Increased pollinator habitat enhances cacao fruit set and predator conservation". Ecological Applications. Ecological Society of America. 27 (3): 887–899. doi:10.1002/eap.1491. ISSN 1051-0761. PMID 28019052.
  11. ^ Walker, Ian R. (2001). "Midges: Chironomidae and related Diptera". In Smol, J. P.; Birks, H. J. B.; Last, W. M. (eds.). Tracking Environmental Change Using Lake Sediments. Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research. Vol. 4: Zoological Indicators. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 43–66. doi:10.1007/0-306-47671-1_3. ISBN 978-0-306-47671-6.
  12. ^ Apperson, Charles; Waldvogel, Michael; Bambara, Stephen (2006). "Biology and Control of Non-biting Aquatic Midges". Department of Entomology, North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Further reading[edit]

Schröder, Oskar; Cavanaugh, Kirstin K.; Schneider, Julio V.; Schell, Tilman; Bonada, Núria; Seifert, Linda; Pauls, Steffen U. (2021). "Genetic data support local persistence in multiple glacial refugia in the montane net‐winged midge Liponeura cinerascens cinerascens (Diptera, blephariceridae)". Freshwater Biology. 66 (5): 859–868. doi:10.1111/fwb.13682.

Huerta, Heron; Grogan, William L. JR (2021). "A new species of predaceous midge in the genus Stilobezzia Kieffer from Mexico (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae)". Zootaxa. 4908 (2): 297–300. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4908.2.11. PMID 33756629. S2CID 232340155.

Pinto, Thandy Junio da Silva; Moreira, Raquel Aparecida; Silva, Laís Conceição Menezes da; Yoshii, Maria Paula Cardoso; Goulart, Bianca Veloso; Fraga, Priscille Dreux; Montagner, Cassiana Carolina; Daam, Michiel Adriaan; Espindola, Evaldo Luiz Gaeta (2021). "Impact of 2,4-D and fipronil on the tropical midge Chironomus sancticaroli (Diptera: Chironomidae)". Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. 209: 111778. doi:10.1016/j.ecoenv.2020.111778. PMID 33338803.