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Midge - Biting Insect Library


Non-Biting Midges, commonly called simply “gnats,” are often mistaken for mosquitoes by their appearance.  They fly in great swarms for the purpose of mating.   Midges are found in every continent of the world.


On occasion, swarms of midges have been so thick they looked like clouds of smoke from afar.




Breeding Habits

Midges fly in great swarms for the purpose of mating.  After mating, the female Non-Biting Midges deposit their eggs over water, on plants in the water or in wet soil nearby.


With the short lifespan of the midge, approximately one month in length, there may be as many as 5 generations produced over the summer.  Of course, the number of generations is dependent upon temperature and moisture in a particular breeding area. Dengue Fever is a very serious mosquito-borne disease comprised of four different strains.



Lifespan of Gnats

The lifespan of gnats occurs in the following four stages: eggs, larva, pupa and adult. First, gelatinous egg masses of up to 3,000 eggs are laid on the surface of water. In several days to 7 days, eggs will sink to the bottom of the water where they are laid and then hatch. Larvae leave the egg mass and burrow into the mud. Organic matter in water and mud is used as food for developing larvae. As they grow, they gradually turn dark red. This larval stage of the lifespan of gnats takes 2-7 weeks depending on the water temperature. Larvae transform into pupae. The pupae stage lasts only 3 days. Pupae actively swim for the surface and adults emerge several hours later. Not soon after emerging, adult gnats will mate. Consequently, adults only live for 3 to 5 days, because these insects never feed once they reach maturity. In the summer months, the gnats’ breeding cycle can be completed in 2 to 3 weeks. Fall and winter will suspend the gnats’ breeding cycle by not allowing larvae to pupate. Although by the following spring, in late March or early April, pupation and the emergence of adults will begin again.



Gnats Breeding Sites

In natural and man-made aquatic habitats, gnats are one of the most common and most abundant insects in nature. Gnats’ breeding sites include just about any body of water. Some examples of gnats’ breeding sites include natural lakes, sewage oxidation and settling ponds, residential lakes and ponds and slow moving shallow rivers. Nutrient rich bodies of water can contain densities of over 4,000 larvae per foot. During the summer months, it is not unusual for several thousand adults per square yard of surface to emerge on a nightly basis. These emerging gnats can cause severe nuisance and other economic problems.




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