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Phantom midge - Chaoboridae
Phantom midge - Chaoboridae

Phantom midges
The phantom midges (Chaoboridae) are a family in the order two-winged flies (Diptera), the suborder thread-horned flies (Nematocera), the infraorder Culicomorpha and the superfamily Culicoidea is. In former times this family was classified as the subfamily Chaoborinae in the family mosquitoes (Culicidae). The Chaoboridae are divided into 2 subfamilies (Chaoborinae and Eucorethrinae), They come with comprising 5 genera and 19 species. In Europe 3 genera with 14 species are common. In Central Europe, more than 11 species can be encountered, of which Corethra plumicornis is the most common and conspicuous.
The genera of Chaoboridae are: Chaoborus, Corethra, Cryophila, Eucorethra and Mochlonyx. They contain the following species: Chaoborus crystal linus, Chaoborus albatus, Chaoborus americanus, Chaoborus astictopus, Chaoborus cooki, Chaoborus festivus, Chaoborus flavicans, Chaoborus maculipes, Chaoborus obscuripes, Chaoborus punctipennis, Chaoborus trivittatus, Corethra plumicornis, Cryophila lapponica, Eucorethra rutilus, Eucorethra underwoodi, Mochlonyx cinctipes, Mochlonyx fuliginosus and Mochlonyx velutinus. Phantom midges are commonly found throughout the world, especially in the Palaearctic. Adult phantom midges have slender and graceful bodies. They can reach body lengths of 2-10 mm. Their bodies are light yellow, greenish, or almost transparent and are reminiscent of mosquitoes.
The mouth parts of phantom midges are atrophied and functional in some species and in others not. Phantom midges cannot sting. Their eyes do not touch but create a crescent shape around the base of their antennae. The long antennae of the males are feathered and comprise 13-15 segments. The pedipalps are divided into three to five segments. Dot eyes (ocelli) are not existing on them. The thorax (chest) has no continuous, V-shaped suture, as in the case of mosquitoes (Tipulidae). The wings of the females are black in colour and almost reach the end of their abdomen. The legs of the Chaoboridae are formed like stilts.
Adult Chaoboridae are not blood-sucking insects and prefer the proximity of water. Some species feed on nectar, while others appear not to take food.
The larvae of the phantom midges live (standing vertically) in water. Their body is transparent (glass rods larvae). They have antennae, which are also shaped in such a way as to function as holding devices for the capture of small insects (eg mosquito larvae) or crustaceans (eg Daphnia). The antennae are used to impale the prey, to crush it and to guide it into the larvae’s mouth.
Chaoboridae larvae have no breathing holes on their abdomen and , breathe through their skin. On the 7th segment of the abdomen are air bags through which they can be kept in water to rise in the balance, with varying the level. By making jerky movements with their entire bodies the larvae can move backwards and forwards. The larvae often occur in large swarms.

Common namesPhantom midges, Phanton Midges
German namesBüschelmücken
Dutch namesPluimmuggen, Spookmuggen
Danish namesGlasmyg
Finnish namesSulkahyttyset
Norwegian namesSvevemygg
Swedish namesTofsmyggor
AuthorNewman, 1834







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Links and ReferencesChaoboridae in
Chaoboridae in
Chaoboridae in
Chaoboridae in
Chaoboridae in Wikipedia (English)

Further chapters of "Phantom midges"
- Chaoborus crystallinus
Description of images / photos
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1. Phantom midge - Chaoboridae
Quick search: Phantom - Chaoboridae - Larvae - Chaoborus - Larva - Adult
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Sources, links and more informations
Phantom midges in Wikipedia
Phantom midges - Chaoboridae
Insects, True insects
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Phantom midges, Phanton Midges
AuthorNewman, 1834
 Species overview

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