Owl Midge

Discovered a fantastic and small midge in the vegetable garden the other day. At first I thought it was a micromoth, but after a great sea of bemussed serarching through my books I found out is is in fact a midge.

There are 99 British species at least, with probably many more undiscovered yet. All very small with hairy, pointed wings. Although this is not a very good photograph, you can easily see how hairy it is.

There is not a great deal of information available on the internet or anywhere I have looked so far. One thing I did find out is that all the sources agree that they are a very difficult group to identify without microscopes. So for now I'll have to be content with just an identification down to genus level.

They have tiny eyes with few facets, and seem to rely more on their antennae than their eyes. The antennae are covered in sensitive hairs that pick up scents and vibrations. Often the adults can be found in huge swarms around sewage filter beds, and in such habitats are an important food source for bats. The adults fly both during the day and night in spring and summer. In many species the adults do not feed and lack mouthparts. In warmer countries some species are known as Sand flies and can be vectors of disease.

The larvae (see below) feed on decaying matter and are aquatic or semi-aquatic. Occasionally they can breed in sink traps.

I think I'll keep a look out for them and see if I can get some better photographs in the future.