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Last updated date: 28th Feb 2024
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What is a Midge?

Midges meaning a tiny fly that belongs to one of many non-mosquito Nematoceran Diptera families. Outside of perennially parched deserts and the freezing zones, midges can be found (seasonally or otherwise) on nearly any geographical surface. Midges of the Phlebotominae (sandfly) and Simuliidae (black fly) families are disease carriers. Many other animals, such as frogs and swallows, provide important prey for insectivores. Others serve as detritivores and are involved in various nutrient cycles. Midges' behaviour varies widely from species to species, however, they all play comparable ecological functions within the same family. 

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Midge Species May be Found in the Following Families:

  • Blephariceridae is a family of net-winged midges.

  • Gall midges, Cecidomyiidae

  • Biting midges, Ceratopogonidae (also known as no-see-ums or punkies in North America, and sandflies in Australia)

  • Phantom midges, Chaoboridae

  • Non-biting midges (also known as muckleheads) belong to the Chironomidae family, while meniscus midges belong to the Dixidae family.

  • Dung midges, Scatopsidae

  • Mountain midges, Deuterophlebiidae

  • Solitary midges, Thaumaleidae

Non-Biting Midges

The Chironomidae family of nematoceran flies (also known as chironomids, non-biting midges, or lake flies) is a worldwide distribution of nematoceran insects. Ceratopogonidae, Simuliidae, and Thaumaleidae are all closely related. Many species resemble mosquitos on the surface, but they lack the Culicidae's wing scales and extended mouthparts. Tokunaga Yusurika Kamusi is an example of a mosquito-like species.

Chironomidae comes from the Ancient Greek term kheironómos, which means "pantomimist."

This is a big insect taxon; some estimates put the number of species at well over 10,000 worldwide. The plumose antennae of males make them clearly identifiable. Adults have aplethora of ambiguous and contradictory common names, owing to a misunderstanding with different insects. In sections of Canada and Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin, chironomids are known as "lake flies," yet in locations near Green Harbor's bay, they're known as "bay flies." In different parts of the Great Lakes region, they are known as "sand flies," "muckleheads," "muffleheads," "Canadian soldiers," or "American soldiers." In Florida, they're known as "blind mosquitoes" or "chizzywinks." They are not mosquitoes, and the word "sandflies" refers to a variety of biting flies that are not related to the Chironomidae family.

The wingless Belgica Antarctica, Antarctica's biggest terrestrial animal, belongs to this group.

Midge- Some Basic Information 

Midges, despite their adorable name, can be a serious pain. Midges are a group of small insects that range in size from 1 to 3 millimetres. Females of some species, like mosquitos, require blood to spawn, therefore, like mosquitos, one of the best methods to keep midges at bay is to dress in permethrin-treated Insect Shield mosquito repellent apparel. Midges may be found all throughout the world, however, they are most commonly found in coastal areas, swamps, and marshy locations. In the United States, they're known as no-see-ums, whereas in Australia, they're known as sandflies (although they are not true sandflies). Many species provide food for insectivores such as frogs and swallows, however, certain midges are disease vectors in livestock. Non-Biting Midges are little, delicate insects that resemble mosquitoes and can be anywhere from 1/8 to 1/2 inches long. They have scaled wings and are generally black, orange, brown, or grey in colour. This group's larvae are little white cylinders. Because of the haemoglobin in their blood, they are commonly referred to as "bloodworms."

What Causes Midges to Bite Humans? 

Midges bite in enormous groups, but it's frequently difficult to notice what's going on with these tiny, tiny biters. Because you generally feel the bites rather than seeing the bugs, they're called no-see-ums. Adult midges have cutting teeth that penetrate the skin and are grey in hue. When a midge clings onto you, it emits a fragrance that attracts other biters.

Knowing when midges are active in your region might help you avoid them. Some species eat mostly around dawn and dusk, while others graze throughout the day. The majority of midge species stay close to their breeding grounds, which are often marshes, bogs, ponds, and other damp environments. People who live in midge-infested areas appear to develop some resistance to the discomfort produced by midge bites. Midges, in general, are the most bothersome to anyone who visits a midge-infested region. Hunters, fishers, and golfers, for example, who come to areas of the United States where midges are widespread, sometimes describe being swarmed by vast numbers of no-see-ums.

What Do Midges Look Like?

Midge bites, like mosquito bites, can cause inflammation and leave telltale indications.

  • A swarm of red dots

  • The skin was penetrated in the centre of the bite, leaving a small hole.

  • Those who are allergic to bites may get welts or blisters.

A searing or scalding sensation might be felt. Bite reactions can be extreme for individuals who are sensitive to bites, which can create red welts or even blisters and feel like a burning feeling.

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How to Prevent Midge Bites?

Midge bites aren't always simple to avoid, but there are certain measures you can take.

  • Be aware of when midges are most active in your region, which is frequently around dawn and night.

  • Avoid marshes and ponds as breeding grounds.

  • Wear light-coloured clothing with plenty of covers.

  • Insect repellent, particularly with DEET, should be used.

Treatment for Midge Bites

Although midge bites can be irritating, they are not known to transmit illness to people. Bite discomfort can be reduced by doing a few easy steps:

  • In the area of start by icing it.

  • Use an antihistamine available over-the-counter.

  • If you've scratched bites and caused them to bleed, use antiseptic creams.

  • If you have an allergic response to the bites, see a doctor.

How to Get Rid of Midges

If you must go outside when midges are prevalent, take the following precautions to avoid bites:

  • As a repellent, use DEET.

  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing to protect yourself.

  • Stay away from midge breeding places.

Aspects that are Beneficial and Economic Impacts

To get to the good stuff, go to Economic Impacts and Beneficial Aspects.

In aquatic settings, the majority of chironomid midge species are very helpful and desirable animals. Fish, shorebirds, predatory aquatic insects, and bats all rely on midges as a food supply. By digesting and recycling organic detritus, larvae “clean” the aquatic environment. Adult midges frequently emerge in huge numbers in residential areas, particularly around lakes and ponds, generating a variety of annoyance and other difficulties for individuals who live within the flying range of these insects. Adults are poor fliers and may be blown ashore, where they gather on plants, porch alcoves in carports, and the walls of houses and other structures. Adult swarms can be so dense that they obstruct outdoor activities and discolour buildings, automobiles, and other surfaces where they congregate. Light attracts adults, and they may congregate in great numbers on window screens and near porch and street lights. Spiders may weave webs near/on building lights. The ugly webs may need to be removed on a regular basis. 

Midge Life Cycle

Chironomid midges, like other flies, have a four-stage life cycle. Females deposit their eggs on the water's surface. Depending on the species, each gelatinous egg mass can contain over 1,000 eggs. The eggs settle to the bottom and hatch in a few days to a week. Larvae burrow into the mud or build little tubes to dwell in after exiting the egg mass. As larvae develop, their tubes expand. The growing larvae feed on suspended organic debris in the water and in the mud. The larvae start off pink and eventually turn red as they mature. As a result, adult larvae are popularly referred to as "blood worms." The midge's blood contains an iron-containing substance called haemoglobin, which gives it its red hue. The haemoglobin permits the larvae to breathe even when there is a lack of dissolved oxygen in the bottom dirt. Depending on the water temperature, the larval stage might last anywhere from 2 to 7 weeks. While still in their tubes, larvae change into pupae. Pupae actively swim to the surface after three days, and adults emerge a few hours later. Adults mate in swarms as soon as they emerge from their cocoons. Adult midges have been found to feed on nectar and other sweet materials in recent research. They only live for 3 to 5 days.

The full life cycle from egg to adult can be accomplished in 2 to 3 weeks throughout the summer. Larvae do not pupate in the fall. They put their growth on hold and spend the winter as adult larvae.

Pupation and adult emergence take place in late March or early April the following season. Throughout the summer, many additional generations of midges are generated, resulting in the mass emergence of adults on plant leaves at the water's edge. Adults will often emerge in significant numbers for many weeks in each generation. Midges in May emerge mostly(usually mid-late May). These are usually the type that doesn’t bite. The season actually begins in early June when the biting females arrive. The midge season lasts until early to late September.

Sites of Breeding

In both natural and man-made aquatic settings, chironomid midges are one of the most frequent and plentiful creatures. Small and large natural lakes, sewage oxidation and settling ponds, residential lakes and ponds, and slow-moving shallow rivers are all places where larvae can be found. On the bottoms of nutrient-rich bodies of water, densities of over 4,000 larvae/square foot are common. During adult emergence times, many thousand individuals per square yard of surface are not uncommon to emerge overnight. Midges that emerge from these bodies of water may obviously be a nuisance and cause additional issues by disturbing outdoor activities or clogging air/water filtration systems, among other things.

Did You Know?

  • There are 152 species of biting midge in the UK - most of which feed on other insects.

    • About 50 feed on warm-blooded animals.

    • 37 of which may be found in Scotland.

  • Meanbhchuileag (trans: "small fly") is its Scots Gaelic name.

  • Its wingspan is around 2mm.

  • These wings are folded flat on their backs when they are at rest, one over the other.

  • In one hour, a swarm of them may inflict around 3,000 bites.

  • 40,000 midges may land on an unprotected arm in the same amount of time.

  • Larvae can reach a density of 24 million per acre in ideal breeding habitats (10,000 square metres).

  • Biting midges are responsible for an estimated 20% of working forestry days wasted in Scotland.

  • Midges are expected to cost the Scottish tourism sector up to £268 million in lost visitors each year.

FAQs on Midge

Q1. Is There a Difference Between a Midge Fly and a Mosquito?

Answer: Midge fly is a tiny or minute two-winged fly that forms swarms and nests near water or marshy places, whereas mosquitoes are a slender, long-legged fly with aquatic larvae and bloodsucking females that may transmit malaria and elephantiasis.

Q2. Midge Insects are Drawn to Certain Things. What are They?

Answer: Carbon dioxide in your breath may be detected by midge insects up to 200 meters away. Dark clothing attracts them, and they enjoy the swampy ground, undergrowth, and gloomy, calm circumstances at dawn and dusk.

Q3. Is it True That Midges have a Purpose?

Answer: Midges are one of the reasons for the Scottish Highlands' low population, and they contribute to keeping the wildernesses natural. They aid in the preservation of enormous regions that might otherwise be subject to human intervention. Furthermore, they provide food for a variety of vital wild animals, including bats.

Q4. How Can You Keep Midges at Bay?

Answer: Early mornings and late evenings are the worst times to be outside when midges are most active. If you're outside, try to sit where the sun shines and there's a wind, as midges dislike these settings. Because midges favour dark clothing, dress as brightly as possible.

Q5. Do You Think You've Been Bitten by a Midge?

Answer: Midge and gnat bites resemble mosquito bites in appearance. They normally create tiny, red lumps that are unpleasant and irritating, and can develop up to worrisome proportions. Fluid-filled blisters can also occur in certain persons.