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    Key to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates in Utah - Diptera

    Worm-like organisms with tentacles, brushes or tails typically belong to the order Diptera, or true flies. 

    There are over 22 families of true flies found in Utah.  All organisms shown here are in the larva stage. 


    Athericidae (Watersnipe Fly)

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    DescriptionAthericidae have several (typically 7) pairs of well-developed ventral pro-legs, dorsal and lateral filaments on each segment,  and a pair of divergent processes on the posterior end. 2-20 mm in length.

    HabitatRapid moving freshwater, common in erosional areas in rivers and streams throughout North America.

    Blephariceridae (Net-winged midge)

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    DescriptionBlephariceridae have 7 distinct segments with a ventral sucker on each of the first 6 segments. 4-12 mm in length.Photo is a ventral view.

    HabitatUpper surface of rocks in fast moving water, occurs in mountainous regions throughout North America.

    Ceratopogonidae (Biting midge, Buffalo gnat)

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    DescriptionCeratopogonidae are very slender.  Prothoracic and terminal prolegs may be present or absent, if present their bodies possess well developed bristles or spines. 2-15 mm in length.

    HabitatTemporary ponds, tree holes, still and fast moving fresh water.

    Other Imagesmacro

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    Chaoboridae (Phantom midge)

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    DescriptionChaoboridae have clear to transparent bodies.  The head is separated from their thorax. 8-15 mm in length.

    HabitatLarge lakes to small ponds, throughout North America in still fresh water.

    Chironomidae (Midge)

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    DescriptionChironomidae have thoracic and terminal prolegs.  They are slender with slightly curved bodies and a well defined head capsule. 2-20 mm in length.

    HabitatStill and fast moving  water, wetlands, temporary and permanent wetted habitats throughout North America.

    Culicidae (Mosquitoes)

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    DescriptionCulicidae larvae have no prolegs and a large head.  They breath through a siphon located on the posterior end. 5-15 mm in length.

    HabitatStill and slow moving fresh water throughout North America, often found near the surface.

    Other Images: Lavae larvae      Pupae pupae

    Deuterophlebiidae (Mountain Midge)

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    DescriptionDeuterophlebiidae larvae have flattened bodies, sucker-like lobes on 7 pairs of prolegs, and forked antennae longer than head. 3-10 mm in length.

    HabitatFast moving fresh water  in mountainous streams throughout western North America.

    Dixidae (Dixid midge)

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    DescriptionDixidae are elongate and slender with 3 thoracic segments.  The abdomen terminates in a breathing tube and lateral paddle-like structures. 3-7 mm in length.

    HabitatFast and still fresh water, throughout North America in a variety of aquatic habitats.

    Dolichopodidae (Aquatic long-legged fly)

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    DescriptionDolichopodidae abdomens terminate in a concave pit surrounded by short projecting lobes.  Abdomen with or without prolegs. 3-10 mm in length.

    HabitatMostly still water, occur throughout North America.

    Empididae (Dance Fly)

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    DescriptionEmpididae may have 7-8 prolegs.  The anterior end of the abdomen ends in a cone shaped point. 2-7 mm in length.

    HabitatFast moving water, occur in variety of aquatic habitats throughout North America.

    Ephydridae (Shore Fly, Brine Fly)

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    DescriptionEphydridae have wrinkled and extendable body, with or without prolegs. 2-12 mm in length.

    Habitat: Still or slow moving water.  Ephydridae can withstand hard conditions, including high salinity, temperatures and pollution.

    Muscidae (Muscid)

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    DescriptionMuscidae have welt like prolegs and have 2 short breathing tubes. 6-14 mm in length.

    HabitatFast moving and still water, occur in various aquatic habitats throughout North America.

    Psychodidae (Moth Fly)

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    DescriptionPsychodidae lack prolegs, abdominal segments are subdivided, a short hardened breathing tube at the terminal end of abdomen. Less than 5 mm in length.

    HabitatFast moving and still fresh water, occur in clean to highly polluted waters throughout North America.

    Ptychoperidae (Phantom Cranefly)

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    DescriptionPtychoperidae have extendable bodies and long extendable breathing tube. Prolegs are present on first 3 abdominal segments. 15-60 mm in length.

    HabitatStill fresh water, occur in ponds and wetlands throughout North America.

    Sciomyzidae (Marsh Fly)

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    DescriptionSciomyzidae have elongated, cylindrical body with a pointed anterior end.  Posterior end is surrounded by several short lobes and may have a breathing tube. 5-15 mm in length.

    HabitatStill water, occur in wetlands, marsh habitats throughout North America (not common).

    Simuliidae (Black Fly)

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    Description: Larvae are cylindrical with a bulbous distal abdomen,  distinct fan-like brushes occur on the sides of their head. 3-12 mm in length.

    HabitatFlowing water, occur in running water habitats throughout North America.

    Stratiomyidae (Soldier Fly)

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    DescriptionStratiomyidae has a leathery feel and appearance due to calcium deposits.  Head extends from thorax. No prolegs. 5-30 mm in length.

    HabitatFast moving and some still fresh water, occurs throughout North America along aquatic habitat margins.

    Syrphidae (Rattail maggot, Flower Fly)

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    DescriptionSyrphidae larvae are soft-bodied, semi-transparent, and wrinkled. They breath through a long breathing tube on the posterior end. Some species have ventral prolegs. 5-25 mm in length.

    HabitatStill waters, tree holes, bogs, occur throughout North America.

    Tabanidae (Deer Fly, Horse Fly)

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    Description: Larvae are elongate, cylindrical and tapers to a pointed cone at both ends, there are no breathing tubes at the posterior end of their abdomen. 10-50 mm in length.

    Habitat: Fast moving and still fresh water, common throughout North America.

    Tanyderidae (Primitive Crane Fly)

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    Description: Larvae are slender and elongate, six long spine-like filaments that extend from the posterior end of their abdomen. 10-20 mm in length.

    HabitatFast moving fresh water, occurs throughout North America.

    Tipulidae (Crane Fly)

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    Description: Larvae have elongated cylindrical shape, head capsule is retracted into their thorax,  abdomen terminates in 2 spiracles that are surrounded by short fleshy lobes. 10-100 mm in length.

    HabitatFast moving and still fresh water, occur in depositional habitats throughout North America.


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