Chironomids are some of the earliest flies to appear in spring in Indiana. The adults feed and mate on land, but the larvae are aquatic. Larvae can live in oxygen poor environments such as storm sewers and stagnant water and may be dominant in anoxic waters. Chironomid larvae are distinguished by their bright red color that is due to the presence of hemoglobin in their blood (hemolymph). The hemoglobins function as oxygen storage and transport proteins.
The midge, Chironomus tentans, has 40 hemoglobin genes in its genome.* The reason behind the large number of gene is unclear. Adults typically do not have hemoglobin in the blood, but females produce it in fat body, presumably to package into the egg yolk.
*￼￼Thorsten Burmestera & Thomas Hankeln. 2007. The respiratory proteins of insects. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Abstract
Journal of Insect Physiology 53 (2007) 285–294
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