Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps

Family CERATOPOGONIDAE Newman, 1834

Compiler and date details

1999 - E.-M.E. Bugledich, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Updated 2011-2012 - Karin Koch and Christine Lambkin, Queensland Museum


The Ceratopogonidae, comprising some 5155 extant species worldwide, are known as the biting midges, to contrast with their sister group, the non-biting midges (Chironomidae). The name biting midge reflects the general presence of functional mandibles in the adult females, and their almost universal absence in the Chironomidae (q.v.). The mandibles are used in feeding to obtain the protein meal usually required for egg maturation. The mandibles of all female biting midges are used to take blood from vertebrates (including humans) and invertebrates. Some species are restricted to sucking haemolymph from invertebrate hosts such as odonates and lepidopterans (Forcipomyia and Atrichopogon) whilst many Ceratopogonini are predators of other flying Nematocera. In some species, the female mandibles may be used to feed on the copulating male of her own species. Certain species, notably amongst Dasyhelea, lack functional mandibles. Amongst vertebrate-biting species are many pests of humans and of livestock, and protozoans, filaria and viruses such as blue-tongue may be transmitted.

In the larval stage the relationship between Ceratopogonidae and Chironomidae is obvious, since they are superficially difficult to distinguish. However, there is an internal structure unique to ceratopogonid larvae — the strongly developed pharyngeal apparatus, which has two strongly divergent arms with prominent combs between.

Larval ecology varies with subfamily: Leptoconopinae are sand-burrowers in fresh, estuarine and marine shores. Dasyheleinae are characteristic of container habitats, including phytotelmata. Forcipomyiinae larvae are more terrestrial but also include fully aquatic species. The Ceratopogoninae vary in habit, but include many semi-aquatic and aquatic species of which several can be found in tree holes.

The fossil record of Ceratopogonidae is rich, with over 205 species described from as early as the Lower Cretaceous.


General References

Boorman, J. 1993. Biting midges (Ceratopogonidae). pp. 288-309 in Lane, R.P. & Crosskey, R.W. (eds). Medical Insects and Arachnids. London : Chapman & Hall xv 723 pp.

Borkent, A. 2011. World Species of Biting Midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). [1-234]

Borkent, A., Wirth, W.W. & Dyce, A.L. 1987. The newly discovered male of Austroconops (Ceratopogonidae: Diptera) with a discussion of the phylogeny of the basal lineages of the Ceratopogonidae. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 89: 587-606

Borkent, A. & Wirth, W.W. 1997. World species of biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History No. 233: 1-257

Debenham, M.L. 1979. An Annotated Checklist and Bibliography of Australasian Region Ceratopogonidae (Diptera, Nematocera). Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service, Monograph 1 xiv 671 pp.

Dyce, A.L., Bellis, G.A. & Muller, M.J. 2007. Pictorial Atlas of Australasian Culicoides wings (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Canberra, Australia : Australian Biological Resources Study 88 pp.

Elson-Harris, M.M. 1990. Keys to the immature stages of some Australian Ceratopogonidae (Diptera). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 29: 267-275

Muller, M.J., Murray, M.D. & Edwards, J.A. 1981. Blood–sucking midges and mosquitoes feeding on mammals at Beatrice Hill, N.T. Australian Journal of Zoology 29: 573-588

Murray, M.D. 1975. Potential vectors of bluetongue in Australia. Australian Veterinary Journal 51: 216-220

Murray, M.D. & Dyce, A.L. 1970. Native insects of Australia as disease vectors—A review of some current studies. Australian Veterinary Journal 46: 138-140

Wirth, W.W. & Grogan, W.L. Jr 1988. The Predaceous Midges of the World (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae: Tribe Ceratopogonini). Flora Fauna Handbook No. 4. Leiden : E.J. Brill 160 pp.

Wirth, W.W. & Hubert, A.A. 1989. The Culicoides of Southeast Asia (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 44: 1-508


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
30-Mar-2012 30-Mar-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)