Phantom midge (Charborus sp.)
Phantom midges are tiny non-biting flies, so named because their larvae
are transparent aquatic organisms. The larvae live in small
ponds, lakes, and standing pools. They pupate and emerge as
small, non-biting adults. The females lay their eggs in
jelly-like discs on the surface of the water. The adults are
quite common in large swarms over lakes in the spring and summer.
The larvae have antennae that have been modified into mouthparts
suitable for grasping other organsims as prey. Adults live about
six days during which time they mate and lay eggs. Eggs hatch in
two to four days. Larvae can develop in six to eight weeks.
The first two instars are strongly phototactic while staying near the
bottom, while the third instar may prefer living in the sediment
itself. The larva can overwinter in this instar if
needed. Fourth instar larvae migrate up and down the water column
in response to atmospheric pressure. When pressure is high (day),
they stay in the sediment; when pressure is low (night), they move to
the surface. Pupation takes from one to two weeks.
Availability: These need to be
ordered and will be available after spring break.
Housing: You will need
either an aquarium, a small jar of water, or a shallow pan. You
should have a thin layer of sediment on the bottom for later-instar
larvae. Larvae will rise to the surface to pupate, at which
points you may want to put a lid on your container. You can move
adults to a small jar with a water-soaked cotton ball for
Food: The larvae will eat Daphnia, other aquatic larvae
smaller than themselves, and other small aquatic organisms.