Mosquitoes/Midges/Horseflies

(Order: Diptera)




Mosquito (male) (possibly Aedes punctor or similar) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

The males of this species are easy to tell apart from the female by their large feathery antennae. The males also do not bite. Although rather brown and insipd looking, these mosquitos looks quite elegant to me, with their long waif thin legs and crowning plume.






Non-biting Midge (male)(Chironomus  sp.) (possibly Chironomus plumosus or similar)(Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

Couldn’t really have a website on Scottish insects without including a midge or two. This is the largest of the Scottish non-biting midges. As with mosquitoes, these feathery antennaed male midges don’t bite. They can be green, brown or black, with the lighter colours having banded stripes. They can often be found near water and in swarms. They often seem to raise their front legs behind their heads, ‘yoga style’ but I have no idea why.








Owl Midge and mating Owl Midges (Pericoma sp.) (possibly Pericoma fuliginosa or similar) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

These are very cute – even for midges – especially as they don’t bite. Also known as the moth fly for obvious reasons and have hairy wings. Owl midges are largely nocturnal and are attracted to light like moths. Photographing them is almost impossible as they are tiny and seem to scurry around without stopping to catch breath. These are very abundant in Scotland which is quite surprising given the mating position - this does not look easy to manoeuvre... 





Biting Midge (Culicoides sp.) (possibly Culicoides impunctatus or similar) (Darnley Country Park, Darnley, South West Glasgow)

The true Scottish biting midge as everyone knows it - or in this case two mating Scottish biting midges having conveniently landed on my husband's jacket.  How can such tiny insects inflict that much pain? The male (the one facing downwards) has the feathered antennae and as you can see, both sexes have dark patches on their wings.  Only the females bite humans, with the males eating rotting plants or nectar. The notorious bane of every camper's life, there has to be more websites dedicated to midges than any other insect in the whole of the UK.  And, despite being what appears to be the most abundant insect in Scotland and the most frequent visitor to every exposed millimetre of skin, they are virtually impossible to photograph being so tiny and so constantly on the move. Biting midges are the only insects I can happily swat without guilt, although out of the goodness of my heart, these ones were allowed to fly off Scot free.










Fungus Gnat (Sciara sp.) (possibly Sciara hemerobioides or similar) (Brighouse Bay, Kirkcudbright)

This is an amazing fly to see in real life as its bright yellow segmented abdomen is striking against its black wings and black legs. It also has the black stripe down its abdomen which can clearly be seen in the photo on the right. Don’t know what these white flowers are, but these fungus gnats must really like them, because whenever I see a photo of this gnat, it’s on these flowers.







Midge (possibly Cricotopus tremulus) (Waterfoot, South West Glasgow)

This is a tiny but striking little gnat/midge only 2 to 3 mms long.  It is mainly black but with white/yellow and black striped legs, it has a white tip to its 'tail', a yellowish stripe at the top of its thorax and peculiar psychedelic circles at the tip of each wing, which can be seen most clearly in the photo on the left.  It was found in mid-April in wild foliage close to a stream. I was unable to identify this midge and sent copies of some photos to Florin Feneru at the Natural History Museam. Whilst it is not possible to positively identified this midge from these photos alone, it was thought that it may be a Cricotopus tremulus. Many thanks again to the Natural History Museum for helping me out. 








Midge (female)(possibly Axarus festivus or similar)

The more I find out about insects, the less I seem to know. What I have realised is just how difficult it is to identify anything with any accuracy just from looking or photographing them.  However, this website is supposed to just be a nudge in the right direction and to try and identify the insects as well as I can from the generally available information.  I do not even know for example, if the species I've specified actually exists in Scotland. However, having grumbled enough, this beautiful green midge has brownish markings on its thorax and a striped abdomen. What I do suspect is that due to the lack of feathered antennae, this is a female midge.






Midge (female) (Ablabesmyia sp.)  (possibly Ablabesmyia monilis or similar) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

Who would have thought there would be so many species of midge in Scotland?  Here is yet another one to add to the list. Conspicuous long black and white striped legs and black and white mottled wings.  Again, like most midges, it is only a few millimeters long and likes warm damp environments.  And again, difficult to identify, so if anyony has any better ideas what this might be, I'd be happy to hear them.








Horsefly (Tabanus sudeticus) (West Side Loch Fine, Argyll)

This fly is huge by Scottish terms and like something out of a horror film. I could see this horsefly clearly from a distance. It is also easily recognisable by the pale triangles down its abdomen. The females suck the blood of mammals inflicting a nasty, painful wound on the animal.







Cleg (females in the top photos, males in the fourth row and mating in the bottom photo) (Haematopota pluvialis) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

Aren’t the eyes on this thing incredible? The female's eyes in the top photos are separatedand are entirely made up of purple and yellow iridescent wavy bands – they’re like something out of an episode of Dr Who. The male's eyes in the next  photos down are touching one another and only the lower half has the iridescent wavy bands (which you can see more clearly on the bottom photo on the right). I always knew these as clegs growing up, but they are also known as deer flies and gad flies. They like damp conditions and it is only the female cleg that bites and sucks blood (hence the translation of its Latin name  -bloodsucker in the rain!). You can see the large biting mouthparts of the female in one of the photos. It creeps up on its victims silently and inconspicuously as I have discovered to my detriment many's a time.