Small to medium-sized, deep red coloured, up to 8 mm long. Eyes paired and almost in contact.
Frontoclypeal apotome strongly narrowed anteriorly, with SII seta on distinct labrum; other labral sclerites fragmentary.
Antenna with 6 segments. Lauterborn organs alternate on apices of segments 2 and 3, short style immediately subapical on segment 3. Ring organ in basal 1/3 to 1/4 of segment 1, seta absent. Blade shorter than antennal flagellum, accessory blade long.
SI plumose, fused basally; SII slender, long apically dissected to micro-plumose; SIII slender, quite long; SIVa normal. Seta premandibularis simple. Labral lamellae broad. Pecten epipharyngis of 3 separate plates, either simple or distally with even-sized teeth. Premandible with 2-3 teeth.
Pale dorsal tooth and 2 distinct inner teeth; mola may be pigmented resembling additional inner tooth. Pecten mandibularis weak. Seta subdentalis broad, extending to 2nd inner tooth/base of apical tooth. Seta interna inserted on dorsal surface, plumose, 4-5 branched.
Mentum with distinct ventromental component of 8 paler median teeth, 4 median subequal, exceptionally unequal in size, 3rd teeth small, appressed to larger 4th lateral teeth, ventromental plate delimitation associated with the3rd / 4th pair of teeth. Four (dorsomental) lateral teeth evenly decrease in size laterally. Ventromental plates widely separated medially, about 2 times as wide as high, subequal in width to mentum, curved and coarsely to finely striate, finer nearer median end. Setae submenti simple.
Lateral and ventral tubules absent.
Paratendipes larvae are distinguishable from other genera with 6 segmented antennae and alternate Lauterborn organs by the 4 pale, usually equally-sized (exceptionally the central pair is taller) median mental teeth, which are always lower than the second lateral tooth. In addition the mandible has only 2 inner teeth and a pale dorsal tooth. The closely related Omisus larvae are distinguishable by the 4, usually dark, median mental teeth of which the central pair is lower and more slender.
Division of Paratendipes into species groups is at present not possible, since the larval types are not yet associated with definite imagines.
A key to 4 larval types is found in Chernovski (1949, 1961). A further larval type is described by Oliver et al. (1978), P. transcaucasicus Chernovski, is a synonym of P. nudisquama Edwards (Reiss, unpublished).
Larvae of Paratendipes occur in standing waters (lakes, ponds, small water bodies, bogs) and in flowing waters (streams, rivers), in soft sediments and in sandy bottoms.
The genus is widely distributed in the Holarctic with about 14 species, whereas six species occur in each of the Afrotropical and Oriental regions.