Chironomus sp. | Wildlife Wednesday


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The last camping trip we had in the spring was to Martin Creek Lake State Park near Kilgore. We had stopped here once on our way home from Caddo Lake when Forest was newly 2 for a short hike, to break up the long drive back to Houston with a then potty training toddler. Kilgore also happens to be near where my friend Michelle and her family used to live so every time we roll through there I think of her, even though she now lives an hour away from me in College Station.

We found ourselves chilling at camp one of the afternoons and I was bound and determined to take butterfly or dragonfly photos, both of which were frequenting the area. As I sat in the sun near the tent pad (that we weren’t using because we have a space ship for our car camping tent) I noticed something flitting about low near the ground. I took a few photos with a more wide angle lens and then got up to switch lenses. Eventually the insect behaved enough for me to snap some more detailed photos. Despite enjoying trying to learn some of our more gregarious insect species, an entomologist I am not.

Thankfully there’s the magical world of iNaturalist or else I would have been flipping through pages of online Google searches and weird image search phrasing (which I still do from time to time) to come up with a result. Quickly it told me it was Chironomus sp., though there were options for narrowing it down to an actual species but I didn’t want to claim that expertise. Chironomus is, to, well, cut and paste from Wikipedia: “a genus of nonbiting midges in the subfamily Chironominae of the bloodworm family, Chironomidae, containing several cryptic species that can only be distinguished by experts based on the characteristics of their giant chromosomes. The larvae of several species inhabit the profundal zone where they can reach relatively high densities. They use a combination of hemoglobin-like proteins and undulatory movements in their burrows to obtain oxygen in poorly oxygenated habitats.”

What a cool little bug to have encountered and just think about all of the bugs we’re walking by every day that are living their lives as we live ours, not knowing they even exist! I’m partial to its feathery antennae!

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One thought on “Chironomus sp. | Wildlife Wednesday

  1. shoreacres says:

    It was that phrase — “non-biting midge” — that jogged my memory. I found a different Chironomus species down at San Bernard one day. It’s got that same feathery plume that’s so appealing.

    I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of iNaturalist. One of these days I’ll figure out how to search for a given species in a particular area. It would be really good if I could discipline myself to add some of my own little finds to my page!

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