Non-Biting Midges Emerging

— Written By Michael Waldvogel
en Español

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Hundreds of midges resting on the window of a home

Midges emerge and are attracted to bright lights around and on homes.

Chironomid midges (“fuzzy bills”) are emerging in large numbers from ponds, lakes as well as the rivers feeding into the Albemarle Sound. This problem often occurs in residential communities adjacent to water where the midges emerge and fly towards the surrounding homes attracted by exterior lighting and lights shining through windows at night.

Midges are similar to mosquitoes in both appearance and aquatic habitat. However, midges have two notable differences from mosquitoes. First (and the good news!), these midges do not bite. Second, midge larvae (the immature stage) spend most of their life in the sediment at the bottom of bodies of water whereas mosquito larvae live and feed in the water column itself. These insects play an important role in freshwater ecosystems. However, large numbers of adult midges can be an indication of water pollution due to nutrient run-off from surrounding lawns and fields. This is one reason (among many) why we remind homeowners to get their soil analyzed by the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services rather than simply buying and apply fertilizer without knowing which nutrients and how much of those nutrients are really needed to maintain a healthy lawn and landscape.

Spraying the exterior of your home is likely to produce mixed results. Most of the products used in these situations are “pyrethroids” (such as bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, gamma-cyhalothrin) which limits their use to the lower part of the foundation (maximum of 3′) to applying it as a “spot treatment” (meaning 2′ x 2′ max.) or ‘crack and crevice’ around areas such as windows, doors, and other exposed surfaces. Also, these types of treatments address the signs of the problem, i.e., the midges. You’re not addressing the source of the midges (the pond or lake) or the possible cause of the problem (e.g., a possible water quality issue) which may be more difficult to address depending on who owns or is responsible for that body of water).

More information about midges