Wing vein M-Cu absent and first segment of front tarsus equal or longer than front tibia (1)
. Legs typically held above and in front of head. Orthocladiinae similar but have first segment of tarsus shorter than front tibia and spend less time with front legs raised.
showing a wing vein with these features.
Larvae are almost always red, generally live in tubes or cases, and generally have two vertically arranged eyespots on each side, as in
Worldwide, more diverse in warmer regions
Generally, warm weather -- most or all of the year along the Gulf Coast to only July in the Arctic
The subfamily is divided into three tribes.
Chironomini has the R-M crossvein at a distinct angle to R4+5, fore tarsus usually significantly longer than fore tibia, male eyes usually with distinct dorsal extension above antenna base
Pseudochironomini has fore tarsus generally shorter than fore tibia, or rarely at most 10% longer; male eyes with very short dorsal extension; black spur at end of fore tibia; R1 and R2+3 widely separated; M reaching wing margin much closer to wingtip than R4+5.
Tanytarsini has fore tarsus longer than fore tibia, wings hairy (at least at tip), and R-M crossvein nearly parallel with R4+5.
There are also genital differences, especially in the male.
The larger, more conspicuous midges generally belong to Chironomini.
Portable cases of some larvae can be confused with Trichoptera.