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The Chaoboridae, commonly known as phantom midges or glassworms, are a family of fairly common midges with a cosmopolitan distribution. They are closely related to the Corethrellidae and Chironomidae; the adults are differentiated through peculiarities in wing venation.

Chaoborus sp. pupa, Netherlands.jpg
Chaoborus pupa
Scientific classification
Male of a species in the family Chaoboridae
Larva of a species of Chaoborus. Note the raptorial antennae
Chaoborus punctipennis

If they eat at all, the adults feed on nectar. The larvae are aquatic and unique in their feeding method: the antennae of phantom midge larvae are modified into grasping organs slightly resembling the raptorial arms of a mantis, with which they capture prey. They feed largely on small insects such as mosquito larvae and crustaceans such as Daphnia. The antennae impale or crush the prey, and then bring it to the larval mouth, or stylet.

The larvae swim and sometimes form large swarms in their lacustrine habitats.



The larvae are nearly transparent, sometimes with a slightly yellow cast; their most opaque features are two air bags, one in the thorax, one in the abdomen about in the second last segment. The adults are delicate flies that closely resemble Chironomidae. Their antennae are 15-segmented and the females' antennae are somewhat bristly; the males' antennae in contrast, are very plumose. In this respect too they resemble many of the Nematocera, and in particular the Chironomidae. The species vary in size from about 2 mm to 10 mm long in their adult stages.


These 26 genera belong to the family Chaoboridae:

Data sources: i = ITIS,[1] c = Catalogue of Life,[2] g = GBIF,[3] b =[4]


  1. ^ "Chaoboridae Report". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  2. ^ "Browse Chaoboridae". Catalogue of Life. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  3. ^ "Chaoboridae". GBIF. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  4. ^ "Chaoboridae Family Information". Retrieved 2018-04-09.

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