Bug's Eye View, Chironomid Midge, Vol. 4, No. 18
Your Extension Experts
Publication Number: P2644
Publication Number: P2646
They look like mosquitoes but they can’t bite. Still, chiromomid midge are vexing pests for many home and business owners. This is especially true for owners of well-lit, light-colored buildings located near large bodies of water. It’s the large numbers of adults accumulating on the sides of buildings, and getting inside, that cause the problems.
Chironomid midge breed on the bottoms of ponds, lakes and similar bodies of water. The larvae, known as bloodworms, are red in color because their hemolymph (technical name for bug blood) contains hemoglobin, which allows them to extract oxygen directly from water. This allows them to remain on lake bottoms for the duration of their larval period, rather than having to constantly travel to the surface for air and back to the bottom of the pond to feed like mosquito larvae (This is why mosquitoes primarily breed in shallow water). Midge are an important part of most lake ecosystems, providing food for fish and other organisms, and healthy bodies of water can contain huge numbers of chironomid midge. Although adult midge do not feed and live only a few days, a flight or generation of emerging adults can span a couple of weeks or longer and there can be several generations per year.
The name “midge” is used for several types of small flies, including several species that bite and suck blood, as well as species that feed on plants or cause plant galls. Hence the need to specify chironomid midge, or non-biting midge. Because they do not bite, chironomid midge are sometimes locally referred to as “blind mosquitoes.” Male chironomid midge can be identified by their brushy antennae. Female chironomid midge have less conspicuous antennae.
Control: Light management is the most effective means of reducing the numbers of midge that accumulate around buildings during heavy midge flights. This involves managing the amount and quality of light around a building so it is less attractive to night-flying insects. Examples include limiting the number of exterior lights; limiting the amount of time lights are on by using timers or motion detectors; shielding exterior lights so light is directed down, rather than out into the night; using exterior lights that produce wavelengths that are less attractive to insects, such as yellow “bug lights”, LED bug lights, and sodium vapor lights; and keeping blinds and curtains closed to prevent indoor light from escaping. Night lights mounted on poles located well away from the building, but directed toward the building, can provide needed light while drawing insects away from the building. Owners of buildings that are especially prone to heavy midge flights have even been known to repaint buildings using darker, less light-reflective colors.
Blake Layton, Extension Entomology Specialist, Mississippi State University Extension Service.
The information given here is for educational purposes only. Always read and follow current label directions. Specific commercial products are mentioned as examples only and reference to specific products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended to other products that may also be suitable and appropriately labeled.