True flies (Order: Diptera)
Chironomidae, commonly known as nonbiting midges, are a family of flies which can be found all over the world. A genus from this family, Limnophyes, was the most common insect during the Fall 2014 School Malaise Trap Program with 1,623 specimens being found in all 59 traps! These midges come from a very large family of insects; experts estimate that there are well over 10,000 different species of Chironomidae world-wide!
Many of these species superficially resemble mosquitoes, but they lack the wing scales and elongated mouthparts which a mosquito uses to feed on blood. The larvae and pupae of nonbiting midges are important food items for fish and other aquatic organisms. Furthermore, chironomids are important indicator organisms, meaning their presence or absence in a body of water can indicate whether pollutants are present or if environmental changes have taken place. This sensitivity to environmental changes also makes chironomids a potential source of information when reconstructing past climate. Lake sediments dating as far back as 10,000 years contain the head capsules shed by chironomid larvae during development. These head capsules allow for species identification and, because chironomid species differ in their tolerances to various environmental factors such as temperature and drought, the identity and abundance of chironomid species present in the sediment indicate the climate at that point in time.