ABC Blog

Midges In Florida: A Nuisance Or A Larger Problem?

Midges in Florida

See if this sounds familiar.

You decide to fire up the grill for dinner. Everything is going great—until you feel the familiar bite of a bug. Then it happens again. Suddenly, you think of another twinge. Each time, you can’t see what could be attacking you.

At first, you assume it must be mosquitoes, but none seem to be around. Then you see the swarm. Dozens of tiny, flying insects hovering nearby in a cloud. Sandflies. Biting midges, or sometimes more commonly called “no see ‘us.”

You think they’re annoying, but at least they’re not dangerous. Or are they? What can you do if you don’t want to deal with these pesky pests?

Many Florida residents wonder if there is anything they can do to deal with midges. Why? First off, they’re everywhere. They can be incredibly annoying if you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors around sunrise or sunset.

Because most people have just seen these insects as a minor nuisance, few understand what midges are precisely and how to avoid getting bitten. In this post, you can learn more about midges in Florida and other parts of the country, what you can do if you get bitten, the differences between midges and mosquitoes, and how to prevent midges from spoiling your next outdoor outing.

Midge fly bites

How To Deal With Midge Fly Bites

Most midges don’t bite. They swarm around or near you in the most annoying way possible. When you come across varieties that do bite, however, you’ll be wishing for the other kind of annoyance.

Why? Because it’s rarely ever a single bite.

As you might remember, midges come in swarms. That means that when a midge bites you, they produce pheromones, essentially saying, “Hey, guys, yummy stuff over here!”

In effect, they call their friends over to enjoy the meal with them, leading to you getting bitten repeatedly.

What happens if you get bitten?                      

People tend to feel a burning sensation at first, followed by a small red welt where they were bitten. Those with allergies may experience extreme itching. Some can suffer for several days after the bites occur.

Keep in mind, though, that typically you are dealing with many, many bites. So, even if you only feel minor discomfort from an individual taste, you’re talking about that sensation numerous times.

Bottom line: Midge bites are not pleasant. And for some, the experience with these beach bugs that bite, which can also be found near salt marshes, mangrove swamps, and other humid environments, can be horrific. You can also run across these bugs in your backyard. When trying to identify different swimming pool bugs, types of midges can congregate poolside, which can certainly interfere with a relaxing swim.

Should you worry about diseases?

Not really. No midges have been recorded as transmitting “disease agents” to people in our country. That being said, there is some evidence that midges might be “vectors” of a parasitic worm that can infect people.

This human nematode parasite is native to South America and has also been found in the West Indies. In people infected, the worms live primarily in the blood but also (while the worms are juveniles) in the skin.

Not exactly pleasant to think about.

If you are bitten and experience discomfort, try calamine or other anti-itch ointments and creams. Some people find quite a bit of relief with these products. If the pain is extreme or continues for several days, it may be wise to seek out the help of a doctor.

Midge vs mosquito

Midge Vs. Mosquito: How Can You Tell Them Apart?

Here’s the bad news: it’s tough to distinguish between most mosquitoes and biting midges just by looking at them. Unless you trap some and get a magnifying glass, the distinct visual characteristics won’t be apparent to the average person.

So, how can you tell which one is which?

There are two significant ways to differentiate between these pesky insects:

  1. Midges are pretty much always in swarms. If you walk through a “cloud” of insects and they fly into your ears, eyes, and mouth, you’re most likely dealing with midges. In contrast, while mosquitoes can swarm, they also often travel—and attack—alone.
  2. Midges are ridiculously slow. Seriously. These bugs fly slower than you can walk. Start moving if you want to get away from midges attacking you. Any bothersome midges will quickly be left behind. Unfortunately, getting rid of mosquitoes this way is not so easy.

So, which pest is worse?

That probably depends on your specific experience.

If you’re looking at the potential damage that can be done, mosquitoes (pictured directly above this section) are worse because of the severe diseases they can carry. Malaria. West Nile Virus. Zika. Yellow Fever. Dengue Fever. You don’t get much worse than that.

However, suppose you ask someone who has suffered a typical mosquito bite or two against someone who has dozens of bites from a midge attack. In that case, you might get a different answer—especially if they have an allergic reaction that increases swelling and itchiness.

Yes, midges are still more annoying than anything else, but sometimes extreme annoyance can feel worse.

No see ums Florida season

The No See Ums Florida Season: When Is It?

So, when do Floridians need to watch out for biting midges?

Generally speaking, midges are more common in warmer, wetter weather and less common in more relaxed, drier weather. So, summer is terrible in the Sunshine State. Because Florida has warm weather most of the year, conditions in spring and fall can also be suitable for these biting insects. Winter tends to bring a bit of a reprieve, though some areas of South Florida have to deal with midges year-round.

The long and short of it is that Florida is a haven for midges. Still, you can probably let your guard down a bit in the winter, and you should be vigilant right after the warmth of spring kicks in and female midges are most active during their mating season.

What You Can Do to Avoid Biting Midges

While there is little that can be done in Florida to avoid midges altogether, there are strategies that you can use to minimize your contact with these creatures.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Minimize your time outdoors around dawn or dusk. Like mosquitoes, early morning and late afternoon are the peak biting times. If you stay inside during these times, you’re far less likely to get bitten.
  2. Use repellents. Insect-repelling lotions and sprays generally work against biting midges, mainly if they contain DEET.
  3. Keep moving. As mentioned above, midges are slow. If you’re going out for a run—or even a brisk dog walk—you’re probably pretty safe from midge bites.
  4. Wear long sleeves. Midges can’t bite what they can’t get to. It may not be the most comfortable feeling to cover up when going out in the hot Florida sun, but it sure beats getting eaten up by midges.

How to get rid of midge flies

How To Get Rid Of Midge Flies

What if you can’t avoid biting midges, and the problem is so bad that the typical protections aren’t working? How can you get rid of midges?

Unfortunately, not much out there has been found to eradicate midges in any meaningful way for more than a short period. The simple fact is that there are too many of them, and they are too widespread.

Insecticides have been effective in some cases, but only for a short time. There aren’t really any traps that have proven effective, either.

Environmental changes may be the best way to reduce the midge population in a specific area. 

Homeowners can follow many of the same suggestions for keeping mosquitoes away. The tactics below can make your yard less attractive to these pesky insects.

Remove Standing Water

One way mosquitoes and midges are alike is that females of both species lay their eggs in standing water. Removing these moisture sources can, therefore, help to curb an infestation. Midge eggs must stay moist, or they will dry out and die, so dumping out containers after your sprinklers run or rainfall can help reduce your midge population.

Invest In Fans

Want to enjoy your screened-in porch? Midges are tiny and can slip through most screens, but they don’t do well in windy areas. Use a high-velocity fan or two; they probably won’t even attempt to come in. With this advice in mind, you should note that midges will probably stay away if it’s windy.

Get “Biting Midge Screening”

While the holes in typical screens are not small enough to stop midges from getting in, you can find screens specially created to keep biting midges away.

Turn Lights Off

Similar to many other types of bugs, midges are attracted to lights. If they see your light on at night, they will be drawn to it, which can result in you getting bitten. Turn off your lights, and you’re less likely to attract them. You can also consider investing in a bug zapper, so they will be fried when they approach your light. If you’re attracting swarms of midges, some are almost guaranteed to get a bite or two in before they perish.

ABC Can Protect You From All Types Of Pests

Unfortunately, midges live alongside us here in Florida. Fortunately, you can call in the experts if you have an infestation or are having problems with other pesky insects or animals. If you have a pest problem, ABC’s experienced technicians can diagnose your issue and provide you with a personalized treatment plan.

Learn More

Comments are closed.