Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Some Really Strange Midge Behavior

While on a trip to The Ridges, in Athens County, a few weeks ago, I came across a very strange phenomenon in a deep ravine. I had no idea what I was looking at, so I went to Reddit and posted my photo on the very helpful "subreddit" called What's This Bug to get some help on finding out what the heck I was looking at. 

Here is the phenomenon in question. Hanging from the exposed rock outcrops were these "strands" of midges. And there wasn't just one; there were multiple strands all along these rocks. The midges were all still alive, but appeared to be holding on to something like a single strand of spider silk. The people on /r/whatsthisbug quickly pointed me to a BugGuide page on the phenomenon. Here is what that page had to say: "The Porricondylinae and the Cecidomyiinae together are monophyletic. They differ from the Lestremiinae in the loss of ocelli and the shortened first tarsomere. This modification may have arisen as an adaptation for roosting on spider webs, where Porricondylinae and Cecidomyiinae are often found. Lestremiinae are never found on spider webs." -- Raymond Gagné
BugGuide also noted that "Cecidomyiidae found on spider webs are likely to be the longer-lived fungus feeding species hanging around waiting for mates to appear; gall-forming species tend to live a day or less." To me, this behavior was incredibly interesting; I had simply never observed anything like it. This is just another reason why you should keep your eyes peeled for the smaller organisms around you, because you never know what you might come across.

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