Midges are a type of fly that you may see in many areas of the country.  They typically breed in aquatic environments and when they emerge it can be in large quantities.  They are nighttime fliers and are attracted to lights and can literally have an immense amount of midges drawn to one light.

The midges that reside in the United States are the non-biting type however if you travel you might encounter the biting flying midge.  Last week in rural Iceland there was a large swarm of biting midges that actually made international news. The local newspaper Fréttablaðið reports that locals have not seen such a large swarm in recent years.

Midges are Chironomides- midge is from Old English mycg 'small fly' (traced to the Indo-European *mu-, 'small fly' from which the Greek and Latin words for 'fly' also evolved.  When many people see a swarm of midges they think the swarm is mosquitoes however you can distinguish midges by the absence of a long probosicis, no scales on the wings and midges have three to four jointed palpi in the mouthparts.

They breed in water-polluted water seems to be the most favorable for them as a place where they multiply and emerge.  They lay a huge amount of eggs over water or attached to aquatic vegetation.  During the summer months the eggs hatch in about 72 hours.  At that time the young larvae drop to the bottom of the water and often build tube-like structures of bottom debris held together by strands of silk.  The larvae are scavengers and feed on bottom debris.  The larvae stage is usually around four weeks and then pupation comes and this stage lasts 48 hours.  Just before emergence the pupa rises to the top of the water.  At that time they become adults after they remove the pupa skin.

The “new” midges find shelter until they are fully hardened.  Once that has occurred the males start swarming at dusk.  Mating occurs when females enter the swarm.  As far as the experts know – adult midges do not have a long life span.  Some reports say they live around 10 days.

When they are in large numbers after the emergence they will move to a nearby residential area or an industrial area and can cause a real annoyance.  They can completely cover a house and create problems by just the amount of them.  Some people have allergic reactions to midges when they are in a swarm.

Experts feel that if you don’t turn on your exterior lights until 45 minutes after sundown you can avoid having midges swarming outside your home.

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