Sunday, 13 January 2013

Winter gnats


On a mild winter's day you may see a cloud of these winter gnats dancing up and down under a tree or near an outside light. It's the males dancing to attract females.
 
 
 a dead one from Wild Yorkshire website
 
Winter gnats are around all the year but you notice them most in winter because (a) few other invertebrates are around and (b) that's when the courting dance, the swarming if you like, takes place.

The eggs are laid on damp rotting material so the larvae do a good job clearing up rubbish.

Brian Valentine
 
They look like mosquitoes but winter gnats do not bite and are quite harmless.  If you catch one you can be sure it is a winter gnat (Trichocera sp.) if it has the very short, curved vein on the inner side of the wing, near where it joins on to the thorax.  You can just see it in the picture below near the drumstick-like halteres.

Jason G on www.diptera.info
 
 I salute them for being some of the few insects to dare to come out in winter. A sign of hope that life is still pulsating even in the depths of winter. 


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