Sunday 8 June 2014

A Non-biting Midge from Late Eocene Ukrainian amber.

Non-biting Midges (Chironomidae) are small Flies closely related to the Biting Midges, Solitary Midges and Blackflies. They closely resemble Mosquitoes, but despite their appearance and relationships, they are quite harmless, lacking biting mouthparts. It was formerly believed that they did not feed as adults, but it is now known that many species do in fact consume nectar, honeydew and similar liquids. They are highly sensitive to environmental changes, and as such can be used both as indicator species when studying modern environments, and in studies of past climates and environments.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 8 May 2014, Viktor Baranov of the I. I. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Trond Anderson of the Department of Natural History at the University Museum of Bergen and Evgeny Perkovsky, also of the I. I. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology, describe a new species of Non-biting Midge from Late Eocene Rovno Amber from Ukraine.

The new species is placed in the subfamily Podonominae, and given the name Palaeoboreochlus inornatus, where 'Palaeoboreochlus' is a combination of 'Palaeo-' (ancient) and 'Boreochlus', an extant genus of Podonominid Midge to which Palaeoboreochlus is thought to be related, and 'inornatus' means 'unadorned'. The species is described from a single male specimen, 1.8 mm in length.

Palaeoboreochlus inornatus, male specimen. Baranov et al. (2014).

See also...

Axymyids are medium sized, stout bodied, True Flies (Diptera) related to the Gnats, Midges, Mosquitoes and Crane Flies. They have a fossil record going beck to the Jurassic, but are rare today, with only six described species.

Mosquitoes are small Flies notorious for their habit of sucking blood. Only the females do this, the males tend to feed on pollen, nectar or plant sap. The larvae of Mosquitoes are aquatic carnivores, the adults emerging from the water to mate, lay eggs and die. This is clearly a successful lifestyle; Mosquitoes are found on every continent except...

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