Midges are found almost everywhere and often occur in huge swarms. It is the large numbers that suddenly appear around the house or landscape that attract attention. Midges range from 1/8 to 1/2 inch and have a long, slender, delicate, mosquito-like body and feathery antennae.
Midges of the type shown are harmless. (There are other species of midges, called the biting midges or no-see-ums that are annoying blood suckers.) The non-biting midges cannot bite or sting and they do not feed on field crops, landscape plants, livestock, pets, people or structures.
Most midge larvae live in water. A few occur in decaying organic matter or in very wet soil. The source of the immature stage means midges will be most numerous near lakes and streams, though swarms considerable distances from the nearest water are possible. Midge larvae are an important food item for fish.
Control of midges is generally not necessary since swarms are harmless and temporary. Further, control is not practical. Fogging as for mosquito control would provide a very, very limited, short-term benefit. Elimination or reduction of midge larvae in aquatic ecosystems is ineffectual since midges may travel long distances. Management to increase aquatic habitat quality (especially density and variety of insect-feeding fish) may make some difference.
This article originally appeared in the April 27, 1994 issue, p. 52.