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Top- Family: Ceratopogonidae (biting midges, no-see-ums); Bottom- Family: Chironomidae (true midges); View: lateral
Updated: October 09, 2013
Aquatic dipterans represent some of the best known insect forms, including mosquitoes, black flies, midges, crane flies and horse flies, many of which are the most troublesome of all insect pests, particularly in terms of human health and economics. Despite this, many groups of aquatic Diptera play pivotal roles in the processing of food energy in aquatic environments and in supporting populations of fishes and waterfowl.
Approximately 10% of all dipteran species are aquatic in their larval stage. Eggs and pupae of these species are also aquatic, whereas adults are always terrestrial.
Some 32 families of Diptera contain species whose larvae are either aquatic or semiaquatic. These are contained in two suborders, the more primitive Nematocera (literally translated as "thread-like horn", and referring to the nature of the adult antenna), and the Brachycera ("short horn"= short antenna). Detailed coverage will be confined (in separate files) to five groups that are important from ecological and/or human welfare perspectives, namely the Chironomidae (midges), Culicidae (mosquitoes), Tipulidae (crane fly), Simuliidae (black fly), and Chaoboridae (phantom midges).
The number of larval instars varies among dipterans; nematocerans have 4, cyclorrhaphans have 3, and orthorrhaphans may have 8 or 9. Larval stages as short as several weeks and as long as two years have been reported, depending on the species, water temperature, and food conditions. The pupal stage lasts approximately two weeks, except in species that overwinter as pupae. Most species overwinter as hibernating eggs, as larvae, or, rarely, adults. Some arctic chironomid larvae coil up in cocoons and overwinter under freezing conditions.
Females of many species are anautogenous, requiring a blood meal to acquire enough protein to produce eggs (Ceratopogonidae, Culicidae, Simuliidae, Tabanidae), and some are vectors of animal or human diseases or both.
Mating of many nematocerans and some brachycerans (e.g., Tabanidae) occurs in swarms. Some species swarm over sand or cow dung or many objects that serve as swarm markers; others swarm around their hosts for both mating and feeding. After mating occurs, females leave the swarm to oviposit. Males of some empidids offer nuptial gifts (usually food) to their mates and copulate while the females are eating.
Most aquatic dipterans are univoltine, but under favourable conditions some may complete more than one generation a year. Some species may take two or three years to complete development in colder climates. One arctic chironomid is reported to have a seven-year life cycle.
Dipteran larvae occur in almost every conceivable aquatic habitat, from the bracts of pitcher plants (Culicidae: Wyeomyia), tree holes (e.g., Chironomidae and Culicidae), saturated soil, and mud puddles, to streams, ponds, large lakes, rivers, and even the marine rocky intertidal zone. Stratiomyids have been recorded from geyser-fed thermal pools that reach temperatures up to 49 deg. C, and ephydrids from natural seeps of crude petroleum. Dipterans are found in rushing streams (Blephariceridae, Deuterophlebiidae), stagnant pools, hot springs, and frozen sediments. The only aquatic habitat where dipterans have not been recorded is the open ocean.
They are classified as clingers, sprawlers, planktonic swimmers, burrowers, climbers, and miners.
|Family||Distribution and Habitat|
|Suborder - Nematocera|
|Tipulidae||(crane flies)- fast & slow-flowing streams & rivers; springs; hygropetric habitats; ponds & lakes, esp. in shallow water; fresh & brackish water marshes; wet moss; tree holes & other phytotelmata; marine intertidal zone; saturated soil; temporary pools; floodplains|
|Blephariceridae||(net-winged midges)- fast-flowing, cool streams, generally at high altitude|
|Deuterophlebiidae||(mountain midges)- fast-flowing, cool streams, generally at high altitude|
|Nymphomyiidae||among moss in cool, fast-flowing streams|
|Tanyderidae||(primitive crane flies)- shallow water at margins of stream & rivers|
|Ptychopterinae||drainage ditches, esp. those contaminated with manure; beaver ponds|
|Bittacomorphinae||(phantom crane flies)- very shallow woodland pools|
|Psychodidae||(moth flies)- fast streams, esp. margins; littoral zone of lakes, esp. in detritus; marine beaches|
|Dixidae||(dixid midges)- sheltered regions of streams, also in detritus; pond & lake at margins or under surface film|
|Chaoboridae||(phantom midges)- lakes in profundal, littoral or open water zones; boggy pools; temporary fresh waters; small springs, esp. limnocrenes|
|Culicidae||(mosquitoes)- ponds & lakes; pools and slow sections of streams & rivers; bogs; marshes; woodland pools; temporary waters; salt marshes; marine rockpools; phytotelmata; water tanks; small container habitats e.g. tin cans, tires, bottles, coconut shells|
|Thaumaleidae||(solitary midges)- hygropetric habitats; small, cold streams, esp. margins; wet moss|
|Simuliidae||(black flies)- fast-water regions of streams & rivers; wave-swept, littoral zone of large lakes|
|Ceratopogonidae||(biting midges, no-see-ums)- littoral & open water zones of lakes, also at margins esp. in algal mats; streams & rivers, esp. margins & in detritus; tree holes; temporary pools; moist soil; salt marshes; marine beaches; some species associated with pollution|
|Chironomidae||(midges)- most types of waterbody, including intertidal rockpools & coral reefs; moist soil; phytotelmata; dung|
|Suborder - Brachycera|
|Stratiomyidae||(soldier flies)- streams & rivers, esp. margins; littoral zones of ponds & lakes, esp. around submerged & emergent macrophytes; hot springs|
|Rhagionidae||(snipe flies)- moist soil & moss in woodlands|
|Pelecorhynchidae||small, foothill streams, on sand substrates|
|Tabanidae||(horse & deer flies)- wetlands; littoral zones & margins of ponds & lakes; damp soil; slow-water regions of streams & rivers; tree holes; marine beaches; estuaries|
|Athericidae||streams & rivers|
|Empididae||(dance flies)- streams & rivers, esp. in detritus; littoral zones of ponds & lakes; wet soil|
|Dolichopodidae||margins of ponds, lakes, rivers & streams; leaf-miners in aquatic macrophytes; marine intertidal; estuaries|
|Phoridae||(humpback flies)- burrowers; predators on Psychodidae|
|Syrphidae||(rattail maggots, flower flies)- pond & lake margins, esp. in fine particle detritus & on water plants; shallow marsh & bog pools; tree holes; polluted water|
|(Section Schizophora: Subsection Acalyptratae)|
|Coelopidae||(seaweed flies)- breed in decaying seaweed around the high water mark|
|Dryomyzidae||moist places, including the seashore|
|Sciomyzidae||(marsh flies)- marshes; margins of streams, ponds & lakes, esp. near emergent macrophytes; temporary ponds; salt marshes; larvae predators or parasites of aquatic & terrestrial snails|
|Sepsidae||(black scavenger flies)- decaying organic matter; terminal drying phase of temporary pools; dung|
|Sphaeroceridae||(small dung flies)- decaying organic matter; terminal drying phase of temporary ponds; dung; septic tanks; wet waste disposal sites|
|Ephydridae||(shore flies, brine flies)- littoral zones & margins of lotic & lentic habitats, often near or within stems of aquatic macrophytes; temporary waters; saline lakes & pools; salt marshes; marine intertidal; pools of crude petroleum; hot springs|
|Canaceidae||(beach flies)- on algae in intertidal zone|
|(Section Schizophora: Subsection Calyptratae)|
|Scathophagidae||(dung flies)- burrowers in tissues of aquatic macrophytes in lakes & ponds; in rotting seaweed; damp soil; sewage treatment beds|
|Anthomyiidae||(root maggot flies)- littoral zones of lakes & ponds, often those that have been enriched by organic wastes; tree holes; a few species in streams|
|Sarcophagidae||(flesh flies)- semiaquatic; burrowers in macrophytes|
|Deuterophlebia spp.||clingers on rocks in mountain streams||scraper||<7 - >7||100||Oligo|
|Blepharicera spp.||clingers in streams||scraper||<7 - >7||100||Oligo|
|Antocha saxicola||clingers in silk tubes in streams||scraper||>7||≅100||Oligo|
|Psychoda alternata||burrowers in lakes, streams||gatherer||5.5 - approx. 7||50-100||Meso|
|Atherix variegata||erosional streams||piercer||6 - >7||≅100||lower|
|Eristalis tenax||burrow in organic bottoms of streams, lakes||gatherer||<7 - >7||< 25||Eutro|
|Spaziphora spp.||sewage ponds||scraper||<7 - >7||<25||Eutro|
|Simulium spp.||erosional streams or wave swept shore of lakes||filter feeder||<7 - >7||≅100||Oligo|
|Prosimulium spp.||erosional streams||filter feeder||<7 - >7||≅100||Oligo|
|Ablabesmyia spp.||streams, lakes||piercer||<7 - >7||25-100||Eutro|
|burrowers in tubes in streams, lakes||gatherer, shredder||<7 - >7||25-100||Eutro|
|Cricotopus exilis||on rocks in streams||piercer||>8||25-100||Eutro|
|Cricotopus bicinctus||streams, lakes||shredder||> 7||25-100||Eutro|
|burrower, streams, lakes||piercer||<7 - >7||25-100||Eutro|
|Dicrotendipes spp.||burrowers, lakes, streams||gatherer, filter feeder, scraper||>7||25-100||Eutro|
|Polypedilum fallax||clinger, streams||shredder, gatherer, piercer||≥7||25-100||Eutro|
|erosional streams||gatherer, shredder, piercer||<7 - >7||25-100||Indifferent|
|Rheopelopia||erosional streams||piercer||<7 - >7||100||Oligo|
|in tube or net, fast streams||filter feeder||<7 - >7||<50||Eutro|
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