How do you get rid of midges and no-see-ums?

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The insects that tortured Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain during the 2007 ALDS and helped the Indians advance to the AL Championship Series are a fact of life in Cleveland in the fall. Midges hatch on Lake Erie and descend upon the city in dense swarms for five to ten days at a time. They’re harmless, but they’re a nuisance!

Biting midges can be a nuisance to campers, fishermen, hunters, hikers, gardeners, and others who spend time outdoors during early morning and evenings, and even during the daytime on cloudy days when winds are calm. They will readily bite humans; the bites are irritating, painful, and can cause long-lasting painful lesions for some people. Individuals often refer to midges as, “large swarms of tiny flies.”

Where do midges come from?

  • The natural habitats of biting midges vary by species.
  • Areas with substantial salt marsh habitat are major producers of many biting midge species.
  • Highly organic soil that is wet but not underwater such as those found with high manure loads is popular to midges.
  • These insects do not establish inside homes, apartments, or inside humans or other animals.
  • The adults are most abundant near productive breeding sites, but will disperse to mate and to feed. The mean distance for female flight is 1.2 miles, less than half of that distance for males.

What do midges and no-see-ums look like?

  • The adult no-see-ums are gray and less than 1/8 inch long.
  • The mouthparts are well-developed with cutting teeth on elongated mandibles in the proboscis, adapted for blood-sucking in females, but not in males.

How do you get rid of midges and no-see-ums?

Applications of insecticides targeting the adult stage are efficient to get rid of midges or no-se-ums. While this type of application may kill midges active on a given night, they are continually dispersing from the larval habitat and entering areas of human activity. It would require insecticide applications on a daily basis in some areas, and this is not efficient or environmentally sound.

Homeowners can install proper screening for windows and patios to prevent no-se-ums from entering residences and outdoor areas used for leisure and entertaining. Most biting midges can pass through 16-mesh insect wire screen and netting, so a smaller mesh size is required. The small mesh size does limit air flow through the screens. Additionally, because no-see-ums are so small and are weak fliers, ceiling and window fans can be used at high speeds to keep no-see-ums out of small areas.

Insect repellents containing DEET typically used as mosquito repellents are also labeled for use against no-see-ums and can be applied prior to exposure to the biting midges. It is important that the directions for application that are printed on the label are followed for any product used as a repellent.

Living in and around the Capital Region it is inevitable you will be outside. If you live in Clifton Park or elsewhere in the Capital Region and need assistance getting rid of pests, start here for a free estimate!


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