Often confused with other flies or mosquitoes, Midges are rather distinctive small-sized flies belonging to the Order Diptera, which includes species of many families of non-mosquito Nematoceran Diptera.
There are more than a thousand Midges species across the world and each of these species has its own unique features and peculiarities. Their characteristics and behaviors, therefore, vary considerably depending upon their species and habitat.
Midges are generally found on every land area except the permanent arid desert regions and extremely frigid areas. These tiny flying creatures have a wingspan of 2-3 mm and some females of Midge’s species require blood in order to reproduce.
Let’s explore and discover some of the fascinating and interesting facts about Midges and know how they are different from that Mosquitoes and other flies in nature and characteristics!
17 Interesting Facts about Midges
This article intends to provide some exclusive information and facts concerning the features of Midges.
Their lifespan, feeding habits, attractions, chief characteristics, the definition of different species, the role played in the environment and differences with that of Mosquitoes are elaborately presented here.
1. How Long Do Midges Live?
Midges generally have a short life cycle as well as lifespan. Midges have a total lifespan of about a few weeks to a month where adult Midges are able to survive approximately for about 3-5 days.
The life cycle of Midges hastens during the warm summer months compared to that of the winters. Midge larvae spend a few weeks after hatching out of their eggs and live primarily in water and mud.
They then transform themselves into Pupa, and this Pupal stage lasts approximately for about 48 hours, finally transforming themselves into adult, fully grown-up Midges.
2. What Do Midges Eat?
Dietary preferences of Midges totally depend upon their varied species and include a wide range of food items ranging from flower nectar and other sweet juices to blood!
Midges in their Larva stage, since living in aquatic or semi-aquatic habitats, prefer to consume items that are available to them and mainly rely on the nutrients that can be obtained from decaying organic matter such as algae, fungi, or any other vegetation.
While non-biting Midges continue to survive upon organic matters, biting Midges feed on plant sap and nectar for regular needs.
However, biting Midges requires a blood meal in order to reproduce. For this reason, female ‘no-see-ums’ depend on humans, cattle and other livestock as sources of their food supplements.
3. What Eats Midges?
There are a number of natural predators of Midges that depend upon Midges for their primary dietary supplement.
The main predators of adult Midges cover all kinds of creatures; from Spiders to Swallows and Bats. The larvae of Midges are generally eaten by Fish, Dragonfly Larvae, Water Beetles and some other predators.
4. What Are Midges Attracted To?
Midges are generally attracted towards dark clothing, undergrowth and boggy grounds, and still conditions that are experienced at the start and end of the day.
Biting Midges are generally well aware of humans and are genuinely attracted towards human beings. It is said that
Midges are capable of detecting carbon dioxide in our breath from 200 meters of distance. Midges are also attracted towards scents and smell from flower nectar or fruit juices.
5. Where are Blood Midges Found?
Blood Midges are primarily the female blood-sucking Midges that depend upon blood from humans and other creatures for their reproduction.
These Blood Midges are found all over the world except total arid and desert regions or extreme cold polar regions. These Midges are also found in or around water sources such as streams, marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, or rivers.
6. What are Scottish Midges?
Scottish Midges (Culicoides Impunctatus) are also known as the Highland Midges and are generally found across the Palearctic upland and lowland arenas.
These Highland Midges are most prevalent from late spring to late summer months in the regions of Northwestern Scotland and northern Wales.
The female Highland Midges are well-known for biting human beings and feeding upon the blood of cattle, sheep, and deer. These Scottish Midges are most active just before dawn and dusk, but they bite at any time of the day.
7. What are Cream Midges?
Cream Midges are a kind of flies, belonging to the order Diptera and are a type of Midges. These are mainly non-biting in nature and are found primarily in or around water, ponds, streams, or swamps.
They are scattered all around the world except extreme climatic conditioning arenas. However, Midges and their soft humming sounds can sometimes irritate others and can seldom become a real nuisance to many people.
8. What are Lake Erie Midges?
The Midges populations living in or around the Lake Erie of North America are usually termed as the Lake Erie Midges.
These Midges are hatched around this lake at the time when the water of the lake warms up during the spring. Midges in these areas are very useful and are a sign of the good health of Lake Erie.
They are most importantly known to provide food supplements to the fish and other aquatic creatures present in or around Lake Erie.
9. When Do Midges Come Out?
Midges generally come out during the summertime, i.e., from late May to the month of September.
The non-biting male Midges are the ones that emerge during the first part of their active seasons and are then followed by the female Midges that depend upon blood from humans and other creatures for their reproduction.
The females usually arrive in early June and with their arrival, the Midges season truly initiates to its fullest. The most active hours of Midges are primarily during the dawn and dusk of the day.
10. When Do Midges Bite?
Although Midges are known to bite at any time of the day, they are most active under low-light and calm conditions and therefore tend to bite especially around dusk and dawn.
Usually, it’s the female Midges that bite humans and other creatures because they primarily depend upon blood for their reproduction.
These female Midges generally bite humans, cattle, sheep, and deer to feed on their blood. They don’t have any fixed time to bite, rather can bite all through the day. However, they are mostly active under low-light conditions such as during dusk and dawn.
11. Why Do Midges Swarm?
The main purpose of Midges swarming is to provide suitable mating procedures and attract their mates.
The swarm of Midges generally gathers in or around wet and marshy areas so that the female Midges could easily lay their eggs over the moist vegetation.
After mating, the female non-biting Midges continue with this and deposit their eggs primarily over water, on plants present in the water, or in the nearby wet and moist soil. Thus, mating is the main motive of their large swarm gatherings.
12. What Temperature Do Midges Come Out?
As earlier stated, Midges season starts from mid-late May and continues throughout the summers until September. Thus, Midges are generally seen on a high-temperature day.
They are mostly active under low-light and calm conditions such as during dusk and dawn. They also come out when the sun’s irradiance, i.e, penetration through the clouds, reduces to below 260 W/m².
And if the level reduces further to below 130 W/m², it becomes a time of feasting for Midges.
Extreme cold spring temperatures, a day with the wind over 7 mph, and extremely high temperatures of hot June cause a threat to the survival of Midges since they are repellent to those conditions.
13. What is the Difference Between Midges and Mosquitoes?
Both Midges and Mosquitoes, being lower flies belonging to the order Diptera, share numerous commonalities making it harder for a common man to differentiate between the two.
However, some of their most important contrasts include their differences in mouthparts, wings and importance.
Midges are comparatively smaller in size than Mosquitoes and don’t possess proboscis similar to that of Mosquitoes. The appearance of their wings are in stark contrast where the wings of Midges are quite smaller than that of the wings of Mosquitoes.
Moreover, Midges fly slowly forming swarms whereas Mosquitoes are fast flyers. Midges normally avoid sunlight, while Mosquitoes are quite comfortable in sunlight.
Most of the Midges species are harmless and are rather important to the natural ecosystem, whereas Mosquitoes are predominantly bloodsucking flies that can transmit a wide range of diseases.
14. What Benefits Do Midges Give to the Environment?
Midges play a crucial role in the maintenance of the natural ecosystem and environment. On one hand, they act as an indicator of pollution and on the other, they efficiently serve both as predators of microorganisms and prey of many other creatures.
Many recent researches have discovered that Midges act as an indicator of water pollution. The presence of some Midges species indicates that the watercourse is healthy with normal oxygen levels.
However, their absence indicates a sign of low oxygen levels and points out water pollution. This is an important role played by Midges in environmental conditions and its maintenance. The Midges larva feeds upon algae and microorganisms filtering them out of water.
Also, Midges are preyed upon by a wide range of creatures, from spiders to swallows. Therefore, they act both as predators of some and prey of many, ultimately contributing remarkably to the natural ecosystem.
15. Why Do Midges Fly in Circles?
Small flies, such as Midges, are known to swarm and fly in circles. This is primarily because they are not perfectly capable of hovering and therefore tend to circle around the area.
Swarming is an essential mechanism for Midges as a mating ritual in order to find their mates. They prefer swarming and flying in circles since they are poor at hovering.
16. What Type of Water Do Biting Midges Live In?
The habitat of Biting Midges varies considerably depending upon their species. Their Larvae are known to live both in freshwater and brackish water bodies.
Biting Midges are known to live in moist and salty water sources including puddles, streams, marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, and rivers.
Moisture is a key element of their survival and life cycle, and therefore their habitats are found in or around moist vegetation and water bodies. However, this may differ depending upon their varied species.
17. Why Do Midges Hold Their Legs Up?
Midges hold their legs up in order to detect air motions and at the same time stay aware of threatening dangers while they are resting.
Unlike Mosquitoes that hover their hind legs for the same purpose, Midges rather use their front legs instead.
Raising their legs up like antennas facilitates these flies to be well aware of the dangers surrounding them while they are resting. Thus resting with their front legs raised helps Midges to stay safe and away from dangers.
In order to conclude we can say that Midges are a fine kind of species, incredible and unique in their own ways. Their variations depending upon their species make them different from other flies.
Although they may look similar to Mosquitoes, they are considerably different from them with their own unique features.
Their lifespan, food habits, habitats, various species, characteristics, unique peculiarities and their differences with that of Mosquitoes have been discussed and discovered at length in this article. Thus, Midges are one of their own kind with their own traits and behaviors.