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Midges, not Mosquitoes

Midges, not Mosquitoes

“My yard and the exterior of my house seems to be infested with non-biting mosquitoes. How can I get rid of them?” This is a common question from homeowners who live beside permanent bodies of water which include swift moving streams, slow moving rivers, swamps, lakes and ponds, and especially run-off collection ponds.

Mosquito adultMidges look a lot like mosquitoes, but there are some differences. The most important difference is that they don’t bite or spread diseases. This makes them more of a nuisance pest rather than health hazard. Midges tend to be found in a visible swarm and, because they are poor fliers, tend to hover aimlessly. Midges also appear to be longer and fuzzier than mosquitoes.

Swarms of midges can be large enough to make outdoor activities, especially grilling or eating outside, almost impossible. Unfortunately, there is very little that a pest control company can do to get rid of them. Let me give a brief description of its life cycle to help explain why.

Midge adultThe adult midge lays eggs (up to 3,000) on the surface of the water. The eggs sink to the muddy bottom where the larvae hatch and then burrow into the mud to pupate. Under ideal water temperatures the adults will emerge in 2-3 weeks. These adults will mate, lay eggs and die within 3 to 5 days. The fact that the larvae are buried in the mud under the water makes it almost impossible to treat the larvae. The fact that the adults only live 3 to 5 days makes it pointless to treat the adults; they only have a few days to live anyway. The extremely high rate of reproduction is what keeps the population numbers so high despite their short life span.

So what can be done?

*Run-off waters from fertilized yards, gardens, or parks give the midges the nutrients they need to thrive when in their larval stage. Can the run-off be diverted? Can the fertilizer rates be cutback?

*Adult midges are very attracted to bright lights. Close your blinds at night. Don’t leave on outdoor floodlights during the summer.

*Electronic bug-zappers can help lower the population but keep in mind the zapper’s light attracts the midges, so place the zapper away from where you want to be.

*Draining the pond during the winter months will expose the over-wintering larvae to the cold, which will go a long way in lowering the population next year.

*Dragon fly nymphs eat midge larvae. Search online for ways to make your local bodies of water an attractive habitat for dragonflies.

*Bottom feeding fish such as catfish and carp also eat midge larvae.

Careful consideration of what combination of these methods might work for you could result in a huge drop in midge population and perhaps even elimination.