Ceratopogonidae is a family of flies commonly known as no-see-ums, or biting midges, generally 1–3 mm in length. The family includes more than 5,000 species,[1] distributed worldwide, apart from the Antarctic and the Arctic.

Ceratopogonidae are holometabolous, meaning their development includes four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and imago or adult, taking two to six weeks. Both adult males and females feed on nectar. Most females also feed on the blood of vertebrates, including humans, to get protein for egg-laying. Their bites are painful, and can cause intensely itchy lesions.[2] Their mouthparts are well-developed for cutting the skin of its host. Some species prey on other insects.

Larvae need moisture to develop, but also air and water, so they are neither aquatic nor terrestrial.[2]

Some species in other genera are predatory on other small insects.

Like other blood sucking flies, the Culicoides species can be vectors of disease-causing pathogens. Among diseases transmitted are the parasitic nematodes Mansonella, bluetongue disease, African horse sickness, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, arboviruses,[3] and nonviral animal pathogens.[4]

Historically, numbers were managed with the insecticide DDT.[2] They can be trapped by luring them with carbon dioxide. Most midges are small enough to pass through ordinary insect window screening. They can be repelled with DEET,[2] oil of eucalyptus, or Icaridin.

A female biting midge, Culicoides sonorensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Suborder: Nematocera
Infraorder: Culicomorpha
Superfamily: Chironomoidea
Family: Ceratopogonidae


The Leptoconopinae is a subfamily of biting midges.[5] The larvae are recognized by their unique sclerites of the head, and by their mouthparts.

The Forcipomyiinae are a subfamily of biting midges. In this subfamily, both anterior and posterior prolegs are present on the larvae. Larvae are both terrestrial and aquatic, and feed primarily on algae and fungi. Some species are important pollinators of tropical crops such as the cocoa bean.

Larvae of species in the Dasyheleinae subfamily are characterized by an anal segment with retractile posterior prolegs. Larvae are aquatic and adults do not feed on vertebrate blood, nor do they prey on other insects. They take nectar only, an unusual feeding behavior within the Ceratopogonidae.

The Ceratopogoninae subfamily has elongated larvae without prolegs or hooks. Most larvae of this subfamily are predatory. Adults generally take vertebrate blood or attack other insects.


Atrichopogon sp. on Oedemera virescens


Ceratopogonid male

Leptoconops spp. from CSIRO


Ceratopogonidae midge sucking Sphodromantis blood IMG 3045ss

Ceratopogonid feeds on a mantis

Palpomyiini penstemon

Palpomyiini caught by sticky hairs of penstemon


  1. ^ Boorman, John (1993). "Biting midges (Ceratopogonidae)". Medical Insects and Arachnids. Springer. pp. 288–309. doi:10.1007/978-94-011-1554-4_7. ISBN 978-94-010-4679-4.
  2. ^ a b c d "common name: biting midges, no-see-ums, scientific name: Culicoides spp. (Insecta: Diptera: Ceratopogonidae)". Featured Creatures. University of Florida. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  3. ^ Carpenter, Simon; Groschup, Martin H.; Garros, Claire; Felippe-Bauer, Maria Luiza; Purse, Bethan V. (2013). "Culicoides biting midges, arboviruses and public health in Europe". Antiviral Research. 100 (1): 102–113. doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2013.07.020. ISSN 0166-3542. PMID 23933421.
  4. ^ Linley, J. R. (1985). "Biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) as vectors of nonviral animal pathogens". Journal of Medical Entomology. 22 (6): 589–599. doi:10.1093/jmedent/22.6.589. ISSN 0022-2585.
  5. ^ Borkent, Art; Craig, Douglas A (23 August 2004). "Austroconops Wirth and Lee, a Lower Cretaceous genus of biting midges yet living in Western Australia: a new species, first description of the immatures and discussion of their biology and phylogeny (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae)". American Museum Novitates. 3449: 1–2.

Alluaudomyia is a genus of predaceous midges in the family Ceratopogonidae. There are at least 180 described species in Alluaudomyia.


Atrichopogon is a genus of biting midges, small flies in the family Ceratopogonidae.

Some Atrichopogon (and Forcipomyia) species are ectoparasites on larger insects.


Bezzia is a genus of biting midges in the family Ceratopogonidae. There are at least 300 described species in Bezzia.

Black fly

A black fly (sometimes called a buffalo gnat, turkey gnat, or white socks) is any member of the family Simuliidae of the Culicomorpha infraorder. They are related to the Ceratopogonidae, Chironomidae, and Thaumaleidae. Over 2,200 species of black flies have been formally named, of which 15 are extinct. They are divided into two subfamilies: Parasimuliinae contains only one genus and four species; Simuliinae contains all the rest. Over 1,800 of the species belong to the genus Simulium.Most black flies gain nourishment by feeding on the blood of mammals, including humans, although the males feed mainly on nectar. They are usually small, black or gray, with short legs, and antennae. They are a common nuisance for humans, and many U.S. states have programs to suppress the black fly population. They spread several diseases, including river blindness in Africa (Simulium damnosum and S. neavei) and the Americas (S. callidum and S. metallicum in Central America, S. ochraceum in Central and South America).


Ceratopogonini is a tribe of biting midges.


The Chironomoidea are a superfamily within the order Diptera, suborder Nematocera, infraorder Culicomorpha. This superfamily contains the families Chironomidae, Ceratopogonidae, Simuliidae, and Thaumaleidae. One of the more important characteristics used to define them is the form of the larval mouthparts.


Culicoides is a genus of biting midges in the family Ceratopogonidae. There are over 1000 species in the genus, which is divided into many subgenera. Several species are known to be vectors of various diseases and parasites which can affect animals.


The Culicomorpha are an infraorder of Nematocera, including mosquitoes, black flies, and several extant and extinct families of insects.


Forcipomyia is a genus of biting midges in the subfamily Forcipomyiinae. Species of the subgenus Lasiohelea suck vertebrate blood. Some species are ectoparasites on larger insects. Other species in the genus are important pollinators of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). There are at least 1,000 described species in Forcipomyia.


Heteromyiini is a tribe of biting midges in the family Ceratopogonidae. There are about 5 genera and 16 described species in Heteromyiini.


Hrunamannahreppur is a municipality located in Iceland. Its major settlement is Flúðir.

Part of this district is in the Highlands and includes the Kerlingarfjöll mountain range.The biting midges (Ceratopogonidae) has been found in this district and is expected to spread throughout Iceland.


Leptoconops (black gnat) is a midge genus in the family Ceratopogonidae. It has a mostly tropical or subtropical distribution worldwide, but some species occur as far north as Moscow region in Russia and the Yukon Territory in Canada.This genus is relictual, having had a pantropical distribution during the Cretaceous. The presence of Leptoconops, along with Austroconops, in ancient Lebanese amber makes these the earliest existing lineages of biting midges. Extinct species have also been described from amber from Siberia, New Jersey, Canada, Hungary, Sakhalin, France, and Spain.Adult Leptoconops females are diurnal feeders, and suck vertebrate blood. Adults of both sexes in some species rest by burying themselves in sand. Larvae feed on algae, fungi, and bacteria. They burrow in moist, usually saline, sand or mud of desert areas and coastal and inland beaches.


Mallochohelea is a genus of biting midges in the family Ceratopogonidae. There are at least 40 described species in Mallochohelea.


Midge is a term used to refer to many species of small flies. The term "midge" does not define any particular taxonomic group, but includes species in several families of non-mosquito Nematoceran Diptera. They are found (seasonally or otherwise) on practically every land area outside permanently arid deserts and the frigid zones. Some midges, such as many Phlebotominae (sand fly) and Simuliidae (black fly), are vectors of various diseases. Many others play useful roles as prey items for insectivores, such as various frogs and swallows. Others are important as detritivores, participating in various nutrient cycles. The habits of midges vary greatly from species to species, though within any particular family, midges commonly have similar ecological roles.

Examples of families that include species of midges include:

Blephariceridae, net-winged midges

Cecidomyiidae, gall midges

Ceratopogonidae, biting midges (also known as no-see-ums or punkies in North America, and sandflies in Australia)

Chaoboridae, phantom midges

Chironomidae, non-biting midges (also known as muckleheads or muffleheads in the Great Lakes region of North America)

Deuterophlebiidae, mountain midges

Dixidae, meniscus midges

Scatopsidae, dung midges

Theumaleidae, solitary midges


Sandfly (or sand fly) is a colloquial name for any species or genus of flying, biting, blood-sucking dipteran (fly) encountered in sandy areas. In the United States, sandfly may refer to certain horse flies that are also known as "greenheads" (family Tabanidae), or to members of the family Ceratopogonidae, also known in Florida and elsewhere as a sand gnat, sandflea, granny nipper, chitra, punkie, or punky. Outside the United States, sandfly may refer to members of the subfamily Phlebotominae within the Psychodidae. Biting midges (Ceratopogonidae) are sometimes called sand flies or no-see-ums (no-see-em, noseeum). New Zealand sandflies are in the genus Austrosimulium, a type of black fly.In the various sorts of sandfly only the female is responsible for biting and sucking the blood of mammals, reptiles and birds; the protein in the blood is necessary for the production of eggs, making the sandfly an anautogenous reproducer.

Some sandfly genera of the subfamily Phlebotominae are the primary vectors of leishmaniasis and pappataci fever; both diseases are confusingly referred to as sandfly fever. In the New World, leishmaniasis is spread by sand flies of the genus Lutzomyia; in the Old World, the disease is spread by sandflies of the genus Phlebotomus. Belize and Honduras are notorious in the Caribbean for their sandfly populations and travel pages frequently warn tourists to bring bug spray containing high concentrations of DEET.


Serromyia is a genus of biting midges in the subfamily Ceratopogoninae.


Sphaeromiini is a tribe of biting midges, insects in the family Ceratopogonidae. There are about 7 genera and at least 40 described species in Sphaeromiini.


Stilobezzia is a genus of predaceous midges in the family Ceratopogonidae. There are at least 320 described species in Stilobezzia.


Thaumaleidae, the solitary midges or trickle midges, are a group of nematoceran flies related to the Ceratopogonidae, Chironomidae, and the Simuliidae. They are small, stocky, yellow to brown flies (3–4 mm). Very few species are known for this family (about 120 species in five genera). Larvae are found in films on rocks and the nonfeeding adults are usually found on foliage along the same streams in which the larvae are found. A few solitary midges are found in the Southern Hemisphere, but Thaumaleidae are generally an Holarctic family.

Extant Diptera families


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