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It is a common misconception for many people to mistake a biting midge (Ceratopogonidae) with the bite of a mosquito. Both of these insects are a nuisance pest with similar behavior patterns and even similar appearances, which is why it is important to use products and methods that aim to get rid of both.
To get rid of biting midges, use all of the traditional products and methods that are used to target mosquitoes. These two pests are similar, therefore an approach that involves draining standing water and a combination of foggers, traps, and spray insecticides works against biting midges.
Although biting midges do not pose the severe health risks to humans as mosquitoes do, midges are still an annoying pest that can be difficult to control. Read on to learn more about biting midges and to discover a range of products and methods that can be used to control these insects.
What Are Biting Midges?
Biting midges are also known by several names: biting gnats, biting midges, biting flies, and their most popular name–no-see-ums. All of these names refer to the same insect, which is a type of fly that mimics the same behavior traits of a mosquito.
Although there are many highly effective insecticides available to treat against biting midges, living with no-see-ums is a fact of life for anybody dwelling in a humid, moist region. If there is any consolation, a no see um does not live very long, but due to their massive reproductive behaviors, you can always count on droves of biting midges to be around in the warmer months of the year.
Like mosquitoes, midges are attracted to plant nectar in addition to mammalian blood, which is what females use to fertilize their eggs.
These insects multiply at a rapid, constant rate and a female can lay upwards of 500 eggs per lifetime—ensuring that an endless supply of midges will continuously thrive in a region. Although it is important to know the lifespan of a biting midge, the fact becomes a moot point due to this incessant reproductive behavior.
The biting midge lifespan has many stages and it is important to know the timeframes to better understand their longevity.
Midges have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult. To begin, it is important to remember that biting midges require water to reproduce; standing water in either lakes, streams, rivers, ditches, and any standing rainwater collected around the home are the requirements to produce a biting midge swarm.
Have you ever seen mosquitoes hovering over water and bobbing up and down above it? Biting midge females are similar in how they just fly over the water, bobbing up and down to the water surface and dropping eggs single-handedly on the surface of the water.
As soon as adult males and females mature to their final life stage, their first act is to mate, with a female possessing the ability to produce upwards of 500 eggs which must gestate in water.
Any matter that is saturated with water, such as mud, water-logged trees and leaves, and even soil in areas that feature consistent rain can be used as an egg habitat for midges. The eggs can hatch in only a matter of days and in some cases, immediately.
Females will also deposit eggs in safe areas prior to the first freeze after a hot season, ensuring that new batches that have dried out are ready to hatch once humid temperatures resume.
The eggs drift on top of water in a state known as diapause and can be incredibly hard to see with the naked eye. Once hatched, the larval stage begins.
Midge larvae are both aquatic and land-based insects that feed on algae, bacteria, and other microorganisms in the environment. Larvae use special silk nets to consumer microparticles in the water or near land until the larvae develop into the pupa stage.
Midge larvae may resemble a small worm and can typically be seen at night.
Most larvae develop over about a week or so, shedding their skins – known as molting – four times on the way to becoming midge pupae. By the fourth stage, each midge larvae is almost a quarter-inch long; the insects swim through their water-based home by propelling themselves about with force much like a maggot.
The pupa stage sees the midge feed less and mostly remain dormant at the surface of the water for a few days before splitting one final stage of development into an adult.
Adult midges emerge from the pupal stage and immediately mate with waiting males. Biting midges only eat plant nectar and consumer water, however, adult females will bite humans and animals to extract blood to fertilize her eggs, which are the instances when midges bite humans.
What Do Biting Midges Look Like?
This insect looks like a typical fly just much smaller in size. If you are popular with the term ‘gnat’ than you will have a good idea of just how large a biting midge is.
Midges will typically be great in color, however, it is usually hard to see the color of the insects since they bite and fly away very quickly. A midge will also look red in color once a female has fed on blood.
The wings of a biting midge can be either dark or light in color and the main part of a midges body closely resembles that of a dragonfly. Since there are well-over 4,000 known species of biting midges, the appearance of a midge will differ greatly based upon the species being observed.
How to Kill Biting Midges
Since it is incredibly difficult to kill a pest that can fly away just as quickly as it lands on your body, measures to eradicate biting midges should also work in conjunction with measures to help prevent the increase of a midge population. A wide range of techniques are available to control and prevent midges from becoming rampant in an area and we will explore each technique below.
Since it is hard to get rid of midges with an insect repellent, it may also help to use products that can administer a poison across a large area. It is important to know exactly how to use a fogger to maximize the potential of your purchase and enjoy your outside area.
You can buy handheld foggers as either propane or electric, and both types have positive and negative attributes when using. Both types will certainly work to kill and repel midges from your chosen outside area, but there are limitations to be aware of.
Since midges are not prone to hunt for blood as fiercely as mosquitoes, a smaller fogger may be a better investment due to the convenience of transporting the fogger, as well as the machine’s ability to target small midges in smaller areas.
The Thermacell Backpack Mosquito Repeller is designed to kill and repel mosquitoes, however, the same concept will work just as easily against midges. This small fogger is powered by a small and lightweight propane tank that activates a chemical of your choice into a dense fog to cover an area up to 30 feet in length.
Foggers are meant to be very powerful solutions, which makes them more ideal for killing dangerous mosquitoes, however, a small fogger like the Thermacell Repeller is perfect to keep midges away when outdoors.
Mosquito traps represent a great way to control mosquito populations and are also ideal for controlling and to help prevent attacks from biting midges since you will not have to bother with spraying harmful chemicals into your living atmosphere.
Traps work in many different ways, with co2 traps being the most popular models for larger areas. To get rid of midges with a trap, you may also want to consider traps that use an electrical grid or method of electrocution to draw in the flies and kill them upon contact.
The BroElec Bug Zapper is a compact and powerful trap that uses the zapping technique to kill biting midges. This trap uses ultraviolet light to draw the flies into the electrical grid where they are quickly electrocuted and disposed of in a removable tray.
Traps work so well because the products help to lure midges, whereas a more common insect repellent would simply attempt to kill the bugs while flying through the air. Pest control methods for flying insects regularly present challenges, but traps can help reduce those challenges by providing the bait in which the flies are seeking.
Chemical Options: Can You Spray for Midges?
It should be remembered that both foggers and even some traps also use chemicals to kill midges once the insects come into contact with the poison or become trapped within it. With that said, there are chemicals that can be used if you choose to get rid of midges in the most traditional method.
Most commercial grade insecticides for flying insects will require a separate purchase of a sprayer since the chemicals will need to be diluted with water to work properly. With that in mind, there are many options to choose from, including some effective and handy aerosols which are beneficial if you want to keep midges from biting when outdoors.
Insecticides formulated for flying insets get rid of midges by targeting the areas in which the flies typically swarm. You cannot rely on residual components to kill these flies since the flying behaviors of the insects help them to escape landing on surfaces containing chemicals.
A chemical option will also kill other varieties of flying insects as well, including non-biting midges.
It is best to choose a formulation that targets flying insects, such as Talstar P, which combines bifenthrin with natural repellents to both kill and keep the insects away. This product features a residual component, which can indeed be useful if you wish to spend a long amount of time outdoors and keep the flies away from areas in which you will be congregating for periods of time.
If you just want to target areas for a short amount of time, an aerosol spray is a great pest control option to use to get rid of midges. It is best to go with a stronger formulation, which CB 80 accomplishes to great effect.
This product uses a multitude of pyrethrins to provide fast knockdown of midges that may be swarming nearby. This product is perfect if you wish to target spray the flies to get rid of them for brief periods while outdoors.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Get Rid of Midges Naturally?
Pest control doesn’t always have to involve harsh chemicals, and there are some ways to kill and prevent midges naturally.
Mosquito dunks are effective for any type of insect that produces a larval stage over the surface of the water, which means this natural product will work against destroying midges before the insects reach the adult stage in their life cycle. Bonide Mosquito Beater is an effective brand of dunk that utilizes a fast-dissolving technique to release the BTI (Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis) quickly to knock the down population.
What Smells Do Midges Hate?
Like most flying insects, midges hate the smell of citronella, therefore, lighting some citronella candles nearby when outdoors will help to get the flies out of the vicinity you will be occupying. Additionally, garlic is known to repel midges, therefore, loading up a sprayer with garlic and water can be used to repel the insects.
Biting midges have many names, yet the annoying bites that these flies produce are sometimes indistinguishable with that of a mosquito. Midges carry no diseases to humans but the flies can certainly ruin an outdoor experience.
Pest control measures to eradicate biting midges are numerous, but if no products are working, never hesitate to contact a pest control professional to address the problem fully.