Moderate-sized larvae, to 6 mm long.
Antenna 5 segmented, basal segment little longer than flagellum. Ring organ on proximal 1/2 of basal segment. Blade arises on apex of segment 1, reaching apex of segment 2, accessory blade subequal to blade. Lauterborn organs lacking. Antennal seta absent. Style absent.
SI seta broad, blade-like; SII similar to SI, twice as long, SIII seta-like; SIVa small 2-segmented. Labral lamellae absent. Pecten epipharyngis a broad scale divided into 3 shallow lobes. Premandible with 2 slender teeth, brush present.
Mandible lacking dorsal tooth, with apical tooth subequal in size to the two flat inner teeth. Seta subdentalis slender reaching innermost tooth. Seta interna with 2 plumose, 2 simple branches. Pecten mandibularis absent.
Mentum with broadly rounded or part trifid median tooth, flanked by 6 pairs of dark lateral teeth, the outermost 3 part fused and outside slope of remaining mentum. Ventromental plates twice as wide as high wide with few coarse striae more distinct posteriorly.
Posterior parapod claws simple.
Cryptotendipes larvae are distinguished from all other genera of Chironomini - with the exception of Microchironomus and some Cladopelma - by the enlarged outer mental teeth, set forward in relation to the slope of the other lateral teeth. They differ from the other 2 genera in having the second pair of lateral teeth set well back making the central part of the mentum much more steeply sloping than the lateral regions.
Larvae of Cryptotendipes inhabit substrata of sand and mud in lakes and rivers. Holarctic, Oriental and northern Australian distribution. According to Sæther (1977b), five species are known from the Nearctic only, four from the Palaearctic only, whilst one occurs in both regions.