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(Aquatic) Midges or Blind Mosquitoes

SIZE: From 3/16 to 1/2 inch (5-12.7mm)


DESCRIPTION: Name applies to mosquito-like flies in the family Chironomidae. They are different from mosquitoes in that female midges don't bite; males have large, bushy antennae. Adults produce a high-pitched humming sound when they swarm.

HABITAT: In Florida, the larvae are abundant in small and large natural lakes, waste water channels, sewage oxidation and settling ponds, and residential-recreational lakes. Adults frequently collect in large swarms in late afternoon or evening near streams, ponds, and lakes. They are often attracted to outdoor lights of houses close to these swarming sites.

LIFE CYCLE: There are 4 stages in the life cycle - egg, larva, pupa and adult. The eggs are laid in a mass on the surface of the water containing 10 to 3,000 eggs depending on the species. Each mass of eggs is enclosed in a gelatinous substance which is usually attached to the edge of the lake, stream or river, and twigs in contact with the water. Egg masses not attached to objects will sink to the bottom where the eggs hatch. Eggs of aquatic midges usually hatch in 2 to 7 days.

The newly hatched larvae feed on the gelatinous material for about 2 days. The adults which emerge mate during swarming at night. The adults do not feed during their adult existence and consequently only live for 3 to 5 days. The entire life cycle can be completed in 2 weeks, although it is common for the life cycle to take longer to complete.

TYPE OF DAMAGE: Although they do not bite, the adults can be a severe nuisance simply by their numbers.

CONTROL: Control measures against adult blind mosquitoes are effective for short periods of time. Mists or fogs from boat-mounted or truck-mounted sprayers traveling close to the shoreline kill midges resting in grass or other vegetation near the water's edge before they fly to the buildings.

Individuals can kill blind mosquito adults by using fogging or aerosol units (several attach to lawn mowers or tractors). Follow directions on the label and fogging attachment for application and formulation instructions.

INTERESTING FACTS: Often mistaken for mosquitoes. The difference is that female mosquitoes do bite; female midges do not.

Information provided by the University of Florida IFAS Extension and the Virginia Cooperative Extension.