Gnats look like slender
flies. Although some species such as some crane flies can be mistaken for wasps
and moth flies for small moths. A difference with flies are the antennae. The antennae of
gnats have many segments. The antennae of flies have always three segments.
All gnats have a snout. Most species don't bite (stabbing). The best known corrosive species belong to the family mosquitoes
Crane flies (Tipulidae)
Crane flies (tipilidae).They
have a long and thin body and very long, thin legs. The family Tipulidae
includes three subfamilies:
Tipulidae, Cylindrotominae and Limoniinae. They live in the same way.
The adult crane flies don’t eat oreat only a little nectar. They live only
to mate and live not long.
The female has a pointed tip which she uses to push her eggs into the soil.
feed on the roots of plants. They can bee a pestbecause the damage to lawns.
Ctenophora pectinicornis. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae).
Length about 4 cm.
This is a female. The female abdomen is pointed for laying eggs into the ground.
Photos 16-6-2011. Photo 7-6-2009. male.
Tipula helvola. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae).
Tipula helvola is a relatively small species (wing length 12-16 mm), which is rare in the Netherlands. The
first antenna segments are brown. The other antenna segments are at the bottom dark. On the light brown or brownish gray thorax is in the middle a thin brown stripe.
In and near deciduous forest.
Tipula lateralis. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae).
Tipula lateralis is distinguished by the light stripe that runs down the middle of the abdomen. On the chest is a black line, that starts just behind the eyes. It also has strikingly patterned wings. It is very similar to the
(in the Netherlands rare) Tipula couckei. The larvae feed on decaying plants on the bottom of the ponds or streams. The length is about 13 mm for males and 16 mm for
March - October.
Tipula lunata. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae).
I found it in a spider web. A striking orange colored
crane fly. Tipula lunata is similar to Tipula cava.
Tipula paludosa. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae).
This species has 14 segments of the antenna. De Tipula oleracea is very
similar, but has 13 segments. In T.paludosa female abdomen is longer than the wings
T. oleracea not. (not shown in this picture)
The wings are not folded in rest.
April - October, but most common in autumn.
Length: 12-17 mm.
Tipula rufina. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae).
A Tipula with spotted wings and a black stripe on the side of the thorax. The wings are folded on the body.
April - November.
Tipula vittata. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae). Female.
The Tipula vitata has a brownish-gray abdomen with at the side dark spots.
The patterned wings, which are unfolded at rest, have light and dark spots. Unfortunately
not very well visible in this picture. It looks like the Tipula maxima, but the
pattern on the wings is different.
The larvae live in boggy areas. In our garden maybe near the pond.
April - June.
Nephrotoma cornicina. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae).
It was very difficult to find the right name. I've
got much help on the Dutch forum
Waarneming (Thanks Arp, James en Henk). And
from Pjotr Oosterbroek. Thanks!
Nephrotoma flavipalpis. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae).
It's a crane fly with long slender legs. Black with yellow. The wings are folded on the body.
Sometimes the wings are not folded. Than you can see how beautiful it is.
Photo 15-7-2012. Female.
Photos 2-10-2011. male.
Nephrotoma pratensis. Family Crane flies (Tipulidae).
De thorax is dark grey, black with yellow. On the side of the abdomen are
Photos 2-6-2013. male.
Nephrotoma quadrifaria. Family Crane flies
The drawing of the thorax is similar to that of the Nephrotoma flavipalpis. The abdomen are
also dark with yellow spots, but it's not the same pattern.
Photos 15-7-2013, 18-7-2013. Female.
Photos 1-1-2015. Female.
Larva of a tipula. I don't know the species.
Tipulidae larvae can be identified by the 6 lobes on the abdomen at the
posterior end. Limoniidae larvae have fewer lobes.
Other gnats (Nematocera)
Window Gnat Sylvicola spec. Family
Another long legged fly. It is related to the
family Chironomidae (Non-Biting Gnats or Midge Flies)
No fear, it is a non-biting gnat.
I don't know wich species. A common window gnat is Sylvicola fenestralis. In
the Netherlands are six species.
They have 16 segments of the antenna.
They have got their name because they are attracted to light especially
Their color also can be reddish.
This photo is from March 2009.
The larvae lives of vegetable waste.
Bibionidae St Mark's flies are no flies. They
are gnats. You can see them in the early spring (often in groups). The males have larger
bulbous eyes than the females.
The larvae feed on decaying organic matter and
on the roots of grasses.
St Mark's fly (Bibio marci). Family Bibionidae.
Leading edge of wing darkened, wing stigma clear, rest of the
wing milky white.
Length about 10 mm. April - May
Geman: Märzfliege, Märzhaarmücke, Markusfliege
oder Markushaarmücke French: Mouche de la Saint-Marc
St Mark's fly
(Bibio marci) Female Photo 17-4-2011.
Bibio Johannis. male. Family Bibionidae.
Features: Wing stigma black. Tarsus and shins light brown. Antennae of normal length, with 9 limbs. Metatarsus slightly thickened, about 3 times as long as wide.
Similar species are: bibio clavipes and bibio lanigerus.
Fever Fly (Dilophus febrilis). Family
The fever fly looks like the Bibio marci, but is
smaller and not so hairy. The female has tinted wings. Only the tip is clear. The wings of the male are
Length 3.5 mm - 8 mm. April to September.
The larvae Bibionidae (Bibio or Dilophus: detail of anal opening is necessary to know
The larvae resemble leatherjackets with a black head. These
larvae I found in October 2008. Very late in the year for these species.
A difference with the leatherjackets are fleshy outgrowths of the skin and the
entirely chitinised, external head.
They have no legs.
The larvae Bibionidae
After I had taken the photo above, I have seen them often in large numbers in the
garden on humus-rich places. After one day they disappeared. The larvae I found three years later, when I swept the street, looked
different. Probably a different species.
Gall midges, gall gnats (Cecidomyiidae, Cecidomyidae) Small midge. Length 0.5 - 3mm. Sometimes larger. They have hairy wings with few veins. There are three subfamilies:
Lestrmiinae, Porricondylinae and Cecidomiina. Some larvae of the subfamily Cecidomiina feed on plant tissue, causing gallnuts
(like gall wasps). They can be harmful. Other larvae live in mushrooms, dead wood or
Gall midge spec, gall gnat spec. Family Gall midges,
gall gnats (Cecidomyiidae, Cecidomyidae).
On these pictures is the gall midge on a flower of a crocus. About 2-3 mm.
Gall midge spec, gall gnat spec. Family Gall midges,
gall gnats (Cecidomyiidae, Cecidomyidae).
A large gall midge. The lower part of the legs is white. The abdomen is orange. Length about 4-5
mm I think. I can't find a name. If you know the name....pleas email me.
Biting midges (Ceratopogonidae). In the United States and Canada: No-see-ums,
midgies, punkies. Small biting midges from 1 to 4 mm.
Biting midge spec. Family biting midges (Ceratopogonidae).
Usually they are not to identify from photographs. The female
midge can stabbing to suck blood. These are the midges of the genera Leptoconops, Culicoides, Forcipomyia. They often feed on nectar and honeydew.
In rest they have a bent posture as a Chironomid. However, they are broader. The antennae of the males are more or less hairy.
The larvae live in moist conditions, such as puddles, damp earth, rotting material, cow dung etc.
Photos 9-4-2014. This biting midge was about 2 mm.
In the Netherlands there are the two species Sphaeromias fasciatus and Sphaeromias pictus. A third species Sphaeromias miricornis is also seen as a
pale variety of Sphaeromias pictus. The differences are small (inter alia in the hairs on the scutellum). See this
information. Females feed on small insects. The males do not eat.
The larvae live in water.
A Chironomid don't sting. At rest the wings as they have a
roof like folded. They are difficult to identify. In the Netherlands there are more than 400 species. The length of the different
species varies from 1 to 10 mm.
The larva resembles a red worm and is eaten by fish. The larvae of most species live in the mud and water between underwater plants.
This Chironomid was about one cm. It's a female, for
Photo 9-4-2014. Male longer than 1 cm.
Chironomid, non-biting midge. Family chironomids, non-biting midges
A male and female together behind our window. Probably
the same species. They were about 4 mm.
Female Photos 18-3-2013.
Culicidae In this family females feed on mammals (humans,
cattle) blood. They have slender legs and wings. The antenna has 15 segments. The antennae
of males are long and hairy. The larvae are found in standing water. They feed on algae
etc. Males typically feed on nectar and plant juices. The females suck blood. The proteins in the blood are used
to develop the eggs.
I have read, that Culiseta subochrea is very
similar. And there are in the Netherlands more species. Namely: C.
alaskaensis, C. fumipennis, C. morsitans, C. ochtroptera. A large mosquito with white rings on the legs.
This mosquito can hibernate in buildings. Males can be recognized by the long hairy antennae.
See the pictures.
Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) looks also like the Culiseta. This
mosquito is native to Asia
but has invaded southern European countries. Aedes albopictus is an
important vector for the transmission of viral pathogens. Also with white
rings but darker.
Culiseta annulata is less dangerous, but people are stabbing by this
Photos male 17-10-2011 German: Culiseta annulata Stechmücke
Maybe Common mosquito (Culex pipiens) Female.
I am not sure. The wing veins are not visible in this picture. The females suck blood mainly
of birds. People are less stung by this mosquito. These mosquitoes can overwinter in buildings.
Limonid Craneflies, Limoniidae The Limoniidae look like small crane flies,
Length 2 - 11 mm, there are some larger species. They are a non-biting gnats. In
the Netherlands there are known 144 species.
Cheilotrichia cinerascens. Probably! Subfamily
Chioneinae. Family Limonid Craneflies, Limoniidae.
The species can be recognized by the wing veins. Deze mug staat here
Joris Menten thanks for helping me.
Symplecta hybrida. Subfamily Chioneinae. Family Limonid
Pale grey-brown with three dark stripes lengthwise on the thorax. The wings have dark cross veins.
Length of this gnat was about 7 mm.
May - October. Larvae in wet sand near water, they feed most likely with organic material. Europe, Asia, North Africa, North America.
Limonia nubeculosa. Subfamily Limoniinae.
Family Limonid Craneflies, Limoniidae.
The long light brown legs have on the thighs (femur) three dark rings. (The
limonia in the picture has lost a leg) The wings have a dark pattern on the front edge.
It has a stripy thorax.
Length 9 - 11 mm. April - November. Palearctic en
The larvae feed on rotting wood.
Phylidorea ferruginea. Subfamily Limoniinae. Family Limonid Craneflies, Limoniidae.
Shiny brown. Yellow brown legs with dark knees.
Length about 9 mm.
May - October. Palearctic.
Photos 19-4-2013, 26-6-2013.
Rhipidia maculata. Subfamily Limoniinae. Family Limonid
The wings have a striking pattern. It is somewhat similar to that of the Limonia nubeculosa, but the legs are
brown grey without a pattern of rings.
Length of these rhipidia was approximately 7 mm.
May - October. Larvae in rotting wood.
Male, good to see the comb-shaped (pectinate) antennas.
Fungus gnats (Mycetophilidae). The family consists of many species, which are difficult to identify.
A strongly humped thorax. Length of most types of 4 to 8 mm. But sometimes they are smaller or larger. Brown, yellow or black and not
stabbing. The wings are often clear, but may also be tinted, and have a pattern. The larvae live in mushrooms, but also in
mosses and in all kinds of moist materials.
Fungus gnat spec. Mycetophilidae spec. Family Fungus gnats
This year we have a lot of honey fungus in the garden. Therefore I see more
fungus gnats than usual. This gnat is brown. The wings have a dark spot, the legs have prominent spines.
The length of the fungus gnat is about 5 mm.
flies, drain flies(Psychodidae) Small 3 to 5 mm. They look like small moths. They have hairy wings. The antenna consists of 13 segments.
The eggs are laid in murky water or moist organic material. The larvae and
adults feed on fungi, bacteria, decaying matter. The adult moth fly likes
By this way of life we find them often in wet areas like toilets. They are not harmful, but can be annoying.
They are all over the world. German:
fly, drain fly spec.Family
Photo 15-6-2011. An other species: Photo
Female. Family: Ptychopteridae, the Phantom Crane Flies. (No
Recognizable: The white tarses on the
in appearance to Crane flies. The larvae live
in muddy shores, where they feed on algae.
The adults are found most often from late spring through to autumn in
shaded, moist environs.
Family: Ptychopteridae, the Phantom Crane Flies. (No
Not in the garden but in the dunes about 4 km from
Shiny black, with some yellow brown spots on the abdomen. On the wing
there are some small spots and a large black spot.
Length about 9 mm.
You can find it in damp places. Europe.
Photos 13-5-2016, 6-5-2014.
Sciaridae spec. Family Sciaridae.
I have in the garden a trunk of a dead apple tree.
There often are different species of flies on it. Two little gnats (5
mm) were walking on this trunk.
There are many little gnats, belonging to the family Sciaridae Usually
they are not to determine from a photo. Length 1 mm to 7 mm. They are a non-biting
gnats. Larvae often live in decaying
The same month I found a much smaller species. About 2 mm.
30-3-2009 Much smaller species:
Sciaridae spec. Family Sciaridae.
These tiny gnats flew and walked everywhere in our house. After some searching, I saw that they were mainly at two plants in the bathroom. A moist warm place. When I put the plant in fresh soil the
Sciaridaes were gone. (You should not immediately put the plants back, because eggs can be laid again.) They were about 2 mm. The species was not to determine. Meanwhile I have a better camera than in 2009 when I photographed the gnats above.
Winter crane flies (Trichoceridae). The family consists of two genera in Europe. Namely Dazosma (late summer - early
autumn) and Trichocera (autumn - spring). Length 3 to 8 mm. Usually pale and not
stabbing. The larvae live in moist soil, decaying material etc.
A charateristic of the family Trichoceridae is a short curved anal vein. The Diazosma
has a slightly longer vein. But that is not visible in this picture. Given the time of year it's more likely that it is a Trichocera.
They look like the Tipulidae, Tanyderidae, and Ptychopteridae, but unlike
these families the family Trichoceridae has ocelli.
The length of this gnat is about 8 mm.
I want to thank everyone, who has helped me (waarneming.nl)
to identify. In particular, Joke van Erkelens, Robert Heemskerk, Mark van Veen,
Gerard Pennard, Niels-Jan Dek and Han Endt. With the determination of Tachinidae I have had
much help from Theo Zeegers and Chris Raper. (On diptera)