For the past few days, I have been enjoying the emergence and maturation of a new crop of blossoms in our garden. And—no great surprise here—it seems that the closer I look, the more I see. I have a friend (Margot) up in Minneapolis who is an entomologist, and she has been, on several occasions, invaluable in helping me to give accurate names to some of my subjects. I sent her copies of these images, and I have her to thank for the taxonomic information.
My first was a truly tiny insect that I observed resting on a petal of our flowering crabapple tree. I thought it might be a kind of winged aphid, but Margot tells me that it’s a lace bug, family Tingidae.
For my last two offerings, while I was having a close look at the many blossoms from our mainly weed-ish ground cover of false (or mock) strawberry (Duchesnia indica), I noticed that tiny insects had taken up positions in about 20-25% of the blossoms. Margot informs me that they are likely male and female midges (Chironomidae).
She goes on to say that males have plumose antennae, which provide more surface area to pick up the female pheromones. They are non-biting, with a short proboscis, and are often mistaken for mosquitoes; some species are much larger than these and are lighter in color, and the antennae are usually much more feathery than those of mosquitoes, but overall, the species have the same general appearance. There are over 100 genera & at least 2000 species in North America; new ones are discovered frequently. They occupy many different aquatic habitats and can be found in marine littoral zones, mountain streams, arctic bogs, mangrove swamps and deep lakes, as well as polluted waters. They are considered the most widely adapted of all aquatic insects. Adults often emerge in very large swarms and are important as fish and bird food.