Aquatic Insects of Michigan
by Ethan Bright, Museum of Zoology Insect Division and School of Natural Resources and Environment
Aquatic Diptera (True Flies) of Michigan
Except for a few families of flies of public health importance, or groups that have a certain ecological interest, our knowledge about the distribution of aquatic and semi-aquatic Diptera in Michigan (and elsewhere) is limited and poor. This poor state of affairs is no doubt due to the cornucopia of species in many families, sampling difficulties, and the state of current taxonomy. To fashion completed species lists for all the families listed in the navigation bar to the left will require years of collaborative work. This is an on-going project in its initial phase: please contact the author to communicate information regarding additional verified species records and locations.
The following families are listed on this page: (Nematocera) - Blephariceridae, Chaoboridae, Corethrellidae, Dixidae, Psychodidae and Ptychopteridae; (Brachycera) - Athericidae, Empididae, Muscidae, Pelecorhynchidae, Phoridae, Sarcophagidae, and Scathophagidae. The following families retain their own separate pages: (Nematocera) - Ceratopogonidae, Chironomidae, Culicidae, Simuliidae; (Brachycera) - Ephydridae, Sciomyzidae, Syrphidae, Tabanidae.
Genera are denoted in green; species denoted in bold blue have been recorded in Michigan; species denoted in black bold are likely to occur in Michigan based on their known distribution with nearby state/provincial localities from which certified records have been published. You can use the Find function in your web browser to locate families, genera, and species. Synonomous species (indented) are listed below the current valid species (denoted in bold) with its taxonomic status indicated.
Found in fast-moving, clean and cold streams. Larvae use ventral suckers to which they adhere to the surfaces of rocks, often near the water surface or even above in the splash zone. Species of the Blepharicera tenuipes-group have been treated by Courtney (2000) and Jacobsen (2010). [Photo right: Blepharicera sp. Image from U.S. EPA Biological Indicators of Watershed Health, courtesy of EcoAnalysts, Inc.).
CERATOPOGONIDAE Newman, 1834 (No-See-Ums, Biting midges) (redirect to separate page)
CHAOBORIDAE Newman, 1834 (Phantom midges)
Chaoborus (Chaoborus) americanus Johannsen, 1903 Corethra (orig.) - records at Cook-MSU
Eucorethra Underwood, 1903 (Subfamily Eucorethrinae)
Mochlonyx Loew, 1844 (Subfamily Chaoborinae, Tribe Mochlonychini)
CHIRONOMIDAE Newman, 1834 (Non-biting midges) (redirect to separate page)
This widespread family of nemotocerous flies has not often been represented in collections, but the discovery of female blood-feeding on frogs has greatly improved our knowledge. Previously grouped with the Culicidae and then Chaoboridae, these midges have since 1986 been recogonized as a distinct family (Edwards 1932, Cook 1965, Wood and Borkent 1986, 1989).
Larvae are found along the margins of aquatic habitats. Because female adults are attracted to the call of male frogs and feed on their blood, species are restricted to areas where there are frogs. There are no vouchered specimens of Corethrella from Michigan. Borkent's authoritative work (2004: 174) on Corethrella indicates two regional references, one from Wisconsin (Dickinson 1944) and another from Michigan (Rao and Rai 1990). Unfortunately, voucher specimens are not available, but if these are good records, based on existing distributions, these specimens may be either C. brakeleyi or C. condita.
Corethrella (Corethrella) condita Borkent, 2004
DIXIDAE Schiner, 1868 (Dixid midges, Meniscus midges)
This is a preliminary list of species based on records at UMMZ-Insect Division, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the A. J. Cook Arthropod Research Collection, MSU, East Lansing, Michigan, as well as information in Hubert (1965).
Dixella Dyar and Shannon, 1924
Dixella indiana Dyar, 1925 - IN
Dixella nova Walker, 1848
[under construction] Photo of adult by Sanjay Acharya 2009 (CCASA 3.0), larvae right by Erin Hayes-Pontius 2012 (CCASA 3.0)
Pericoma (Pericoma) marginalis (Banks, 1894) Psychoda (orig.)
Pericoma (Pericoma) scotiae (Curran, 1924) Psychoda (orig.) - NS-AB
Pericoma (Pericoma) signata (Banks, 1901) Psychoda (orig.) - LB-MN
Pericoma (Pericoma) slossosonae (Williston, 1893) Psychoda (orig.)
Psychoda cinerea Banks, 1894 - ON
Psychoda lativentris Berden, 1952 - widespread
Psychoda minuta Banks, 1894 - ME-MN
Psychoda phalaenoides (Linnaeus, 1758) Tipula (orig.)
Psychoda pusilla Tonnoir, 1922 - NY-WA
Psychoda satchelli Quate, 1955 - ON
Psychoda setigera Tonnoir, 1922 - MN, ON
Psychoda trinodulosa Tonnoir, 1922 - MN, WI
Psychoda umbracola Quate, 1955 - MN, WI
Psychoda uniformata Haseman, 1907
Telmatoscopus nebraskensis Quate, 1955 - check distribution
Telmatoscopus niger (Banks, 1894) Psychoda (orig.) - IN, NY, MN
Telmatoscopus superbus (Banks, 1894) Psychoda - check distribution
Telmatoscopus varitarsis (Curran, 1924) Psychoda (orig.) - check distribution
PTYCHOPTERIDAE Osten-Sacken, 1862 (Phantom crane flies)
These are large, dark and interesting flies that resemble tipulid crane flies. Larvae are found in fine organic substrates in stagnant or slowly moving water of seeps and wetlands. Older literature references this family as Liriopeidae Meigen, 1800, which was suppressed by the ICZN in Opinion 678 in 1963. Note: species denoted in bold-blue have been recorded in Michigan, other are likely to be found in the state based on existed regional distribution records.
Ptychoptera quadrifasciata Say, 1824 - records at Cook-MSU
Bittacomorphella Alexander, 1916 (Subfamily Bittacomorphinae)
Bittacomorpha Westwood, 1835 (Subfamily Bittacomorphinae)
SIMULIIDAE Newman, 1834 (Black flies, Buffalo Gnats) (redirect to separate page)
TIPULIDAE sensu lato (Tipuloidea) (Crane Flies) (redirect to separate page)
ATHERICIDAE Nowicki, 1873 (Water snipe flies)
This family was erected by Stuckenberg (1973) for species in 7 genera formerly placed in the family Rhagionidae, including three aquatic species in the genus Atherix. Species of Nearctic Athericidae were reviewed by Webb (1977), with one record for A. lantha from Ann Arbor, and A. variegata is widespread in central and northern Michigan.
Atherix variegata Walker, 1848 - Webb 1977; Kovalak 1978: 10
DOLICHIPODIDAE Latreille, 1809 (Long-legged flies) (redirect to separate page)
Records are based on a survey of material at UMMZ-Insect Division collection, literature records, and information provided by Dr. Bradley Sinclair.
Genera are denoted in green; species denoted in bold blue have been recorded in Michigan; species denoted in black bold are likely to occur in Michigan based on their known distribution with nearby state/provincial localities from which certified records have been published. You can use the Find function in your web browser to locate families, genera, and species. Synonomous species (indented) are listed below the current valid species (denoted in bold) with its taxonomic status indicated. [Photo of Rhamphomyia adult from California (copyright 2005 Hartmut Wisch - used by permission].
Chelifera palloris (Coquillett, 1895) Mantipeza (orig.) - MacDonald 1994
Chelifera subnotata MacDonald, 1994 - NY, may be strictly Appalachian
Chelipoda elongata (Melander, 1902) Litanomyia (orig.) - MacDonald 1993
Chelipoda truncata MacDonald, 1993 - MN, ON, WI, south to GA
Clinocera brunnea Sinclair, 2008 - Sinclair 2008 (1m, Alger Co., Munising, Alger Falls, 9.ix.1982, R. Hurley)
Clinocera maculata Loew, 1860 - Alger Co., Alger Falls, Munising, 9.ix.l992, RH (HSU); Montmorency Co., Hunt Ck, 15.ii.1941, J.W. Leonard (USNM) (Sinclair 2008)
Clinocera stagnalis (Haliday, 1833) Heleodromia (orig.) - Keweenaw Co., Isle Royale, 9.vii.1938, George C. Steyskal (USNM) (Sinclair 2008)
Dolichocephala vockerothi Sinclair & MacDonald, 2012 - Cheboygan Co., Sturgeon R. at Rondo [45.3168░N,-84.6225░W], 7.vii.1987, R. Hurley (1 #, MTEC); Marquette Co., 15mi SW Big Bay, 22ľ26.vi.1986, malaise trap, John F. MacDonald (1 ~, CNC) (Sinclair and MacDonald, 2012); based on record in Lambton Co., ON, expect this species in southern Michigan as well.
Hemerodromia empiformis (Say, 1823) Ochthera (orig.) - ON, IN, MN, WI (MacDonald 1998)
Hemerodromia melanosoma Melander, 1947 - MacDonald 1998
Hemerodromia sufflexa Melander, 1947 - IL, IN, MN, ON, NY
Hemerodromia superstitiosa Say, 1824 - MacDonald 1998
Neoplasta scapularis (Loew, 1862) Hemerodromia (orig.) - MacDonald and Turner, 1993 (possibly a species complex)
Rhamphomyia americana Wiedemann, 1830 - widespread
Rhamphomyia angustipennis Loew, 1861 - IL-NH
Rhamphomyia aperta Loew, 1862 - IL-ME
Rhamphomyia basalis Loew, 1864 - Melander 1965:462
Rhamphomyia brevis Loew, 1861 - widespread
Rhamphomyia compta Coquillett, 1895 - widespread
Rhamphomyia debilis Loew, 1861 - MN, SK-ME
Rhamphomyia dimidiata Loew, 1861 - IL, NY
Rhamphomyia falcipedia Chillcott, 1959 - Melander 1965:463
Rhamphomyia fumosa Loew, 1861 - UMMZ
Rhamphomyia gilvipilosa Coquillett, 1895 - IL, QB
Rhamphomyia gracilis Loew, 1861 - UMMZ (8/28/1929 record from Higgins Lake coll. George Steyskal, though species is indicated as eastern by Melander 1965)
Rhamphomyia hirtipes Loew, 1864 - UMMZ (4/17/1979 record from St. Joseph Co. coll. H. D. Cameron)
Rhamphomyia irregularis Loew, 1864 - UMMZ (5/12/1929 record from Oakland Co. coll. George Steyskal)
Rhamphomyia laevigata Loew, 1861 - MT-QB, expect northern UP
Rhamphomyia limbata Loew, 1861 - widespread northern
Rhamphomyia longicauda Loew, 1861 - Melander 1965:464, UMMZ
Rhamphomyia mutabilis Loew, 1862 - IL, east
Rhamphomyia nana Loew, 1861 - widespread
Rhamphomyia otiosa Coquillett, 1895 - CO-QB, NJ
Rhamphomyia phemius Walker, 1849 - ON, widespread northern
Rhamphomyia piligeronis Coquillett, 1895 - IL, ON
Rhamphomyia priapulus Loew, 1861 - UMMZ (5/19/1979 record from Washtenaw Co. coll. H. D. Cameron, though species is indicated as eastern by Melander 1965)
Rhamphomyia pulla Loew, 1861 - UMMZ (Schoolcraft Co., Washtenaw Co.)
Rhamphomyia rustica Loew, 1864 - UMMZ (Arenac Co., Keweenaw Co., though species is indicated as eastern by Melander 1965)
Rhamphomyia setosa Coquillett, 1895 - widespread northern
Rhamphomyia sordida Loew, 1861 - UMMZ (4/30/1981 record from Washtenaw Co. coll. by H. D. Cameron, though species is indicated as eastern by Melander 1965)
Rhamphomyia vara Loew, 1861 - UMMZ (5/29/1918 record from Washtenaw Co. coll. F. M. Gaige)
Rhamphomyia virgata Coquillett, 1895 (6/1/1901 record from Washtenaw Co., unknown collector, identified by G. Steyskal)
Rhamphomyia vittata Loew, 1862 - UMMZ (7/1/1938 and 6/25/1939 records from Wayne Co. coll. George Steyskal)
Trichoclinocera falcata Sinclair, 1994 - ON, expect in e. UP
Trichoclinocera longipes (Walker, 1849) Heleodromia (orig.)
Trichoclinocera pectinifemur Sinclair, 1994 - IN, OH, ON
EPHYDRIDAE Zetterstedt, 1837 (Shore flies) (redirect to separate page)
Limnophora narona Walker, 1849 - UMMZ
Lispe brevipes Aldrich, 1913
Lispe cotidiana Snyder, 1954
Lispe nasoni Stein, 1898 - UMMZ
Lispe nudifacies Snyder, 1954
Lispe palposa Walker, 1849 - UMMZ
Lispe sociabilis Loew, 1862 - UMMZ
Older literature placed the genus Glutops in Rhagionidae, but a number of phylogenetic analyses of morphological and molecular data have supported Pelecorhynchidae as a distinct clad from Rhagionidae (Wiegmann et al. 2011), and Teskey's (1970) placement of Glutops in Pelecorhynichidae. Larvae of Glutops are sprawler burrowers, semi-aquatic, collected in damp margins of swampy areas.
Phorids are very small flies that are easily recognized by the small head and prominent pronotum, giving them a humpbacked appearance. Only the veins toward the foremargins of the wings are thickened; the others are weak and are not connected by cross veins. The hind femora are laterally flattened. The larvae are slightly flattened larvae and up to 4 mm long (www.entomology.ucr.edu).
The definitive work on aquatic Phoridae is by Disney (1991). Two synanthropic cosmopolitan phorids (Dohmiphora cornuta and Megaselia rufipes) inhabit trickling sanitation filterbeds, and may be commonly encountered public restrooms and homes. Dohrniphora cornuta (Bigot), which is probably tropical in origin but has been transported around the world, has been found in the pitcher-plant species Sarracenia flava L. (Disney 1991) and thus may be found in our native S.purpurea L. (Sarraceniaceae). Megaselia orestes Borgmeier has also been found breeding in the western pitcher-plant species Darlingtonia californica (Torrey) (Disney 1991), but this is a western plant species and I am unaware of any records of this fly from Michigan.
Megaselia Rondani, 1856
Megaselia rufipes (Meigen, 1804) Trineura (orig.)
This is an overwhelmingly a terrestrial group, but the species of Fletcherimyia Townsend and one species of Sarcophaga Meigen are associated with pitcher plants (Sarracenia). Fletcherimyia larvae are borrowers that mine the bases of pitcher plants, scavaging the trapped remains of drowned invertebrates. Of this principally southeastern genus, one species approaches our area.
These flies are generally lentic, shredders of vascular hydrophytes, but are also found in depositional zones of lotic systems. This list is under construction, and a survey of Michigan records and material has not yet been done.
Hydromyza FallÚn, 1813 - lentic-vascular hydrophytes (submerged and floating zones) - burrowers-miners (plant stems and roots) - shredders-herbivores (miners in petioles of Nuphar, roots of Potamogeton)
Orthacheta Becker, 1894 - lentic-vascular hydrophytes (emergent zone) - burrowers-miners (plant stems) - predators (engulfers)
Spaziphora Rondani, 1856 - lentic-littoral (sewage beds in oxidation ponds) - sprawlers - scrapers, collectors-gatherers
SCIOMYZIDAE FallÚn, 1820 - Marsh Flies (redirect to separate page)
STRATIOMYIDAE Latreille, 1804 - Soldier Flies (redirect to separate page)
TABANIDAE Latreille, 1802 - Horse and Deer Flies (redirect to separate page)
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Page created: February 02, 2002; Last edited: November 04, 2013 (EB)