Is it a Mosquito or Lake Midge?
This is a mosquito (see photo). Only female adult mosquitoes bite, because they require a blood meal to produce viable eggs. Male mosquitoes are perfectly harmless to us and spend their days sipping nectar from flowers.
If an insect that looks like this lands on your arm and bites you, that’s a pretty good indication that it’s a mosquito. But how do you identify a mosquito without enduring a bite?
Look for these characteristics:
• Long wings – the wings on a mosquito are typically longer than the body.• Proboscis – both male and female mosquitoes have an elongated proboscis which extends forward from its mouthparts.• “Fringed” wings – a mosquito’s wings bear scales which create a fringe-like border on the trailing or posterior edge.• “Humpback” appearance – a mosquito holds its body away from the substrate on which it is resting.
This is a midge (see photo). To the untrained eye, midges look very similar to mosquitoes. Midges, however, do not bite. They do not transmit diseases. Midges are found near lakes, streams or ponds and appear to float over the water in clouds.
The adult midge becomes active after sunset. Midges tend to swarm and are extremely attracted to lights, including bug zappers. The piles of dead “mosquitoes” you think you find in your bug zapper are probably harmless midges.
The midge is attracted to freshly painted surfaces mistaking the shine of the paint for the water surface. Midges will cluster on screens and window sills and can be found hanging on curtains and other fabric surfaces. Their small size allows them to enter the home through cracks around doors, holes in the window screens and other openings in the home. Once inside, they die in short period, often on window sills where they are attracted to the outside light.
Notice these characteristics of the midge, which differentiate it from the mosquito above:
• Shorter wings – the midge’s wings do not extend beyond the end of its body.• No proboscis – there is no visible proboscis extending from the midge’s mouth.• Smooth-edge wings – because the midge’s wings are not covered in scales, there is no visible “fringe” along the edge of each wing.• Straight appearance – when at rest, the midge’s body will be straight, with its thorax low to the substrate on which it rests.
There is no good control measure for midges. And because they can fly as far as a quarter of a mile from their breeding sites, finding and treating a specific breeding site would be like finding a needle in a very large haystack. At the very best, you can eliminate any standing water on your property. Midges are highly attracted to light, so minimizing the use of outside lights will help reduce their presence near your home. You may also want to think about replacing your outdoor lights with yellow, orange or red bulbs which are colors least attractive to flying insects.Should you choose to use a bug zapper, keep it as far away from your home as possible to maximize its effectiveness.
Keep doors and windows closed or screened to prevent midges from entering your home. Using insecticides to control midges is not recommended, as more midges will quickly re-enter the area that was treated. Remember, these midges are harmless and have very short life spans so any nuisance they pose will be temporary and intermittent. Midges are important to the food chain as they provide food for fish and other aquatic animals.