Brazilian Chironomidae Natural History 

source: Humberto Fonseca Mendes

 The chironomids feed only on larval stages, the adults emerge to the reproduction. Most of the taxonomic works deal with adults, and many of them lack the immature information. 

In the other hand, most of the ecological approaches deal with larvae. Below follows a list of the genera whose species are described from Brazil and an abstract about feeding behavior and ecological notes.  

Aedokritus Roback, 1958 
  The A. coffeatus Trivinho-Strixino, 1997, is described to sandy botton with moderate organic material dissolved. The biggest population densities were recorded in the dry season (September-October). 

  The A. froehlichi Andersen & Mendes, 2002,  is described to Minas Gerais State, but new records of the species and the genus have been added. The  larvae are found in bottom of lakes and rivers (Epler, 1995). 

Beardius Reiss & Sublette, 1985 
  According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 1993, in the gut contents, there were found, predominantly, detritus. The Beardius species inhabit macrophytes in standing waters or immersed wood in standing or flowing waters.

Caladomyia Säwedal, 1981 
 The recently described species, C. friederi Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 2000, was associated with the macrophyte, Mayaca fluviatilis. 

Chironomus Meigen, 1803 
 The larvae can live in high pollution levels and oxygen depletion. Many species have been used for lab tests, including C. xanthus, in Brazil (Fonseca, 1997). 

Cladopelma Kieffer, 1921 
 The larve have been reported to lakes and streams, some can tolerate low dissolved Oxygen levels (Epler, 1995). 

Dicrotendipes Kieffer, 1913 
 The larvae can be found in many kinds of  Habitats, from untouched to seriously impacted areas, oftenly they are associated to the submerged vegetation (Epler, 1995). 

Fissimentum Cranston & Nolte, 1996 
 Only the type species (F. dessicatum) is known, which is drought tolerant. This genus is reported from South America and from Australia Cranston & Nolte, 1996. 

Goeldichironomus Fittkau, 1965 
 This genus was, in the beginning, confused with Chironomus Meigen, nowadays its systematics is well stabilished. The larvae can be found in many Habitats, from Oligotrophic to Hipereutrophic. 

Manoa Fittkau, 1963 
 The immatures are associated with the transient Habitat between soil and water. They are quite common in swamps and lentic Habitats with little water. 

Nandeva  Wiedenbrug, Reiss &Fittkau, 1998 

Neelamia Soponis, 1987 
 No immature is known.  

Nimbocera Reiss, 1972 
 According to Nessimian et al. 1999 analyses of the gut contents, the larvae feed on algae, plant parts and detritus. Some larvae were fed by Ablabesmyia, Labrundinia and Djalmabatista.(Nessimian et al. 1999) 

Oukuriella Epler, 1986 
 The immatures were recently found and were not described yet. 

Parachironomus Lenz, 1921 
 According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 1993, algae, and detritus were encountered in the gut content analyses. The larvae can be found in many Habitats, some were collected in Phytotelmata. 

Pelomus Reiss, 1990 
 No immature is known.  

Polypedilum Kieffer, 1912 
 Maybe this is the biggest genus in the Chironomidae. They inhabit many places, from flowing waters to phytotelmata. Some larvae were fed by Djalmabatista (Nessimian et al. 1999). According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 1993, in the gut content analyses, the most important item was detritus. Some larvae of the Subgenus P. (Asheum) Sublette & Sublette, 1983, were also collected in phytotelmata.  

Rheotanytarsus Thienemann & Bause, 1913 
  According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino (1993), the larvae feed mostly on detritus. According to Kyerematen & Sæther (2000), the larvae live in flowing waters and also occur in the wave swept littoral zones of lakes, where they live as active feeders using nets suspended between arms at the antiroir end of the cases.  

Skutzia Reiss, 1985 
 No immature is known.  

Stempellina Thienemann & Bause, 1913 
 The larvae build a portable case with sand grains. They are recorded from lentic and lotic Habitats. 

Stenochironomus Kieffer, 1919 
 The larvae are leaf and wood miners. They can be found in lentic and lotic Habitats. 

Tanytarsus van der Wulp, 1874 
 According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 1993, in the gut content analyses, detritus was the most important item, but some algae were also recorded. 

 The larvae are wood miners and may inhabit freshwater sponges.  

Zavreliella Kieffer, 1920 
 The larvae build portable cases. They were found in lentic oligotrophic to eutrophic Habitats. The gut content analyses, Nessimian et al. 1999, showed that these animals can feed on algae, plant fragments and detritus. 


 The larvae are terrestrial, feed on sediment and organic matter. The identifications to the species level requires associations of larvae, pupae and adults. 

Bryophaenocladius Thienemann, 1934 
 The immatures are semi-terrestrials, they live near to the body water margins or can be higropetric. There is only one species known from Brazil, but no data on immature was provided. 

Cardiocladius Kieffer, 1912 
 The larvae are facultative predadors/parasites of Simuliidae (Diptera) e Hydropsychidae (Trichoptera). The gut content analyses from larvae associated with Trichoptera showed that they were feeding on algae and detritus (Oliver & Bode 1985). 

Clunio Haliday, 1855 
 The immatures inhabit the intertidal zone, they coexist with Thalassomyia. 

Corytibacladius Oliveira, Messias & Santos, 1995 
 No immature is known.  

Ichthyocladius Fittkau, 1972, 
 The immatures can be found associated epizooically on fish of the family Loricariidae. The feeding behaviour of the larvae was not well understood yet, the only work on this genus was Fittkau, 1972. In his work Fittkau separated the species to six different morfotypes occurring in the main hidrographic basins of South America. 

Lopescladius Oliveira, 1967 
 Despite of the author of this genus is brazilian, none of the brazilian species is described as immatures. The larvae can be found in sandy substrates of streams and rivers. 

Mesosmittia Brundin, 1956 
 The information on immatures is based on a description of the larvae, pupae remain unknown. No information on the biology neither o the ecology was given.

Oliveiriella Wiedenbrug & Fittkau, 1997 
 The immatures are known just by pupae, which  were collected in mountain streams in Brazil and Ecuador, no other data were provided.  

Parakiefferiella Thienemann, 1936
 According to Wiedenbrug & Andersen, 2002, the immatures can be found in both lenthic and lotic habitats. 


Clinotanypus Kieffer, 1913 
 The larvae occur in lakes and pools, as in streams and rivers. They seem to prefer soft bottons and can be found in “clear” Habitats with organic matter enrichment. Nessimian et al. 1999, in the gut content analyses, found animal and vegetal fragments and detritus. 

Coelotanypus Kieffer, 1913 
 The larvae can be found in or on the sediment of swamps, pools, temporary waters, lakes and low flowing waters. Some species seem to be related, but not necessary restricted, to extremely eutrophic water bodies. According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 1993, there was observed in gut contents, animals and vegetal fragments and detritus. 

Djalmabatista Fittkau, 1968 
 This genus was primary described to Brazil, 1968. The larvae occur in pools, lakes, streams and rivers, apparently with a preference to soft bottons and according to Roback & Tennessen (1978), they can tolerate moderate iron levels. Nessimian et al. 1999 observed some larvae feeding on Polypedilum larvae. 

Fittkauimyia Karunakaran, 1969 
 The larvae are predadors of other insects. The described species from Brazil, F. crypta, occurs in springs of rio Bento Gomes – MT. They seem to be related to dead leaves, where they sit-and-wait. Some larvae have been recorded from swamps, pools, lakes, streams and rivers. 

Laurotanypus Oliveira, Messias & Silva-Vasconcelos 1992 
 No immature is known.  

Monopelopia Fittkau, 1962 
 The larvae live in streams, pools and lakes. Three single species were described to bromeliads in the Neotropics,  M. mikeschawrtzi, Epler, 1998, M. tillandsia Beck & Beck, 1966 and M. caraguata Mendes, Marcondes & Pinho, 2003. 

Tanypus Meigen, 1803 
 The larvae can be found in or on sediments of lakes, swamps and slow flowing waters. 


Telmatogeton Schiner, 1866. 
 The immatures live in the intertidal zone and can be easily collected on algae 


Non-formally described genera related to Brazil:

 According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 1993, in the gut content analyses, some animal pieces and detritus were found. 

 According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 1993, in the gut content analyses, some animal pieces and detritus were found. 

 The larvae occur in lakes, streams and rivers, but can be limited to relatively clear waters (Simpson & Bode, 1980) 

 The larvae can be found in or on the sediment, they can tolerate low dissolved oxygen levels (Epler, 1995). 

 The larvae live inside portable cases as in Zavreliella, they are found among aquatic vegetation and on sandy substrates of lentic Habitats. 

 The larvae occur in streams and rivers (Epler, 1995). 

The larvae occur in standing and flowing waters. 

 The larvae occur in streams and rivers, sometimes  are associated with aquatic vegetation. 

 The larvae, as Parachironomus, occur in many environmental conditions. 

 According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino (1993), in the gut content analyses, the larvae feed predominantly on vegetal fragments. 

 The larvae are encountered in sediments from the margin of oligo-mesotrophic lakes and slow flowing waters (Pinder & Reiss, 1983). 

 The larvae can be found in same places as Lopescladius, sandy substrata of lakes and streams. 

 The larvae occur in the margin of lakes. 



 That is a very abundant genus, apparently without environmental preferences, occur in lakes, streams and rivers, some are higropetric. The larvae are omnivore, sometimes they are sampled feeding on peryphiton. In the other hand, only two species are known from Argentina.  

 The larvae are very abundant in streams and according to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino (1995), there are at least two morfotypes of larvae in São Paulo Starte. Some larvae can be erroneously identified as Orthocladius, what makes identifications secure just with reared material.  

 Terrestrial to semi-terrestrial, they are associated to mosses and marginal vegetation. The species of this genus is hardly separated of Bryophaenocladius in larval and pupal stages. 

 Some larvae are easily recognised by the strong colouration of the body. The larvae can be collected in body water margins, generally associated with small marginal vegetation like mosses. 

 There are, in Brazil, two recognised subgenera, Nanocladius (Nanocladius) e Nanocladius (Plecopteracoluthus), the second is generally associated with Plecoptera (Kempnyia e Anacroneura) (for more information see Dorvillè et al. 2000). Nanocladius (Nanocladius) is generally free living found in sandy substrata. 

 The larvae are found in springs, streams and rivers. They are extremally sensitive to organic pollution. The identifications of this genus are just secure with reared material of at least pupa. The larvae are closely related to Paraphaenocladius. 

 The larvae are morphologically near to Corynoneura, belonging to the Corynoneura-group. There are, in Brazil, at least, two species (Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 1995). 


 Despite of this being one of the most common genera of Tanypodinae collected in Brazil, none species was formally described. The described species occur in lentic and lotic Habitats.  

 According to Fittkau & Roback, 1983, there is a lack of information about this genus. 

 The larvae seem to be related to streams of low temperatures, Fittkau & Roback, 1983 

 In the Thienemannimyia-group, this seems to be the most frequent genus in mountain streams on São Paulo State. The larvae are, generally associated with marginal vegetation. The identification of the larvae is just secure with reared material. 

 Many works assign this genus to Brazil, but no species was described. They are easily found in lentic habitats, but might also occur in the margins of streams and pools. Strixino & Trivinho-Strixino, 1984, reported the numerical predominance of this genus among all the community associated with Eichornia crassipes (Mart) Solms. According to Trivinho-Strixino & Strixino, 1993, in the gut content analyses, just animal pieces were found. In the other hand, in the Nessimian et al. 1999 analyses, but animal fragments, some algae were encountered. 

Larsia Fittkau, 1962 
 The larvae are predadors and sometimes detritivores.  

 The larvae semm to be related to fine sediments of streams and low temperatures (Fittkau & Roback, 1983). 

 The larvae seem to be related to lotic Habitats of moderate flow. 

 The larvae can be found in lakes and slow flowing parts of streams. They can tolerate high pollution levels, sometimes morphological deformities can occur because of pollution. 

Grupo Thienemannimyia 
 Meropelopia, Helopelopia, Thienemannimyia and Conchapelopia represent the Thienemannimyia-group, previously considered Thienemannimyia subgenera. The identifications based only on larvae are not secure. 

The larvae seem to be related to sediments in springs, few works dealt with feeding components. 


 Only some larvae were collected in São Paulo State, Praia do Lamberto (Ubatuba, SP), collected among Bostrichia sp. and in Praia da Cigarra (São Sebastião, SP), among Ulva sp. 

Acknowledgements to: Dr Martin Spies München - Germany, by his critics and corrections in this Home Page, and by the access to his personal files. 
Como citar esta página:

Mendes, H. F. & Pinho, L. C. Diptera: Chironomidae. 2006 /aguadoce/chironomidae/chiroin dex.htm In: Levantamento e biologia de Insecta e Oligochaeta aquáticos de sistemas lóticos do Estado de São Paulo, /aguadoce. [Atualização: Setembro 2006 (em construção)].