You might have had some experiences batting a swarm of tiny insects from your head especially at dusk. If this rings true, then you’ve probably had an encounter with midges. Of a truth, these insects are small. However, their size does not make them less annoying.
While some midges constitute nothing but a sheer nuisance, other Types bite your skin and feed on your blood. This bite can pass for the most painful you’ve encountered in a while.
What are Midges?
Midges are tiny insects of the Diptera order. As it stands, there are over 4000 species of this small but annoying creature. Swarm can be found on virtually every environment except the poles.
Midges come in two major categories, biting midges and non-biting midges.
· Non-biting midges
Non-biting midges are popularly known as gnats. They are members of the Chironomidae insect family. These types are mostly attracted to bright lights as most insects are. They can be found on your windows outdoors and even indoors, especially around your porch where it is brightest.
Non-biting midges do not need a personalized invitation to get into your apartment. You might as well leave your door shut for all they care. That doesn’t stop them from visiting you anyway; they can pass through tiny openings, air conditioning units and what have you.
Once they gain access indoors, they have a swell time at the expense of your peace and calm. The sad part is it is usually more of a task getting rid of them; the good part is they die quick.
· Biting midges
Unlike its counterpart, biting midges belong to the Ceratopogonidae family. These midges are also known as ‘no-see-urms.’ This name is as a result of their ability to sting you without notice; most times, all you feel is the sting, you might not see the culprit responsible for your pain.
The primary food source for this cruel species is nectar. However, the female midge’s egg cannot attain maturity until it has derived blood from other animals, insects and to make matters worse, humans.
You know the female midge has fed when you notice an accumulation of blood in its abdomen.
Lifespan of Midges
During summer, the male and female midges mate and lay eggs, each of these eggs takes less than 24 hours to hatch. After this stage comes the larval stage during which the midges live as either omnivores or detritivores.
A short pupal stage which spans for about two days occurs in late spring or early summer. Once this stage is over, there is an emergence of the adult midge.
While this process is going on, there is usually an emergence of non-biting male midges before the biting female midges. In the summer mating season, male midges find female midges to mate with and then die afterwards.
The female midges then go ahead to lay their first eggs even without needing a meal of blood. Depending on the weather, the female midge can lay as much as three more batches of egg. This time, however, it requires a blood meal for each batch.
As autumn arrives, the mother midges die, and the process continues.
How to Identify Midge Bite
The almost negligible size of midges makes it quite challenging to spot them after a bite. What you will feel most likely is the painful sensation in your skin, the pain can also be sharp and stinging.
Often, these bites create small lumps in the area where it has occurred. In addition to the lumps, you might also feel a lot of itchiness in such a spot. For those with skins that are pretty sensitive to bites and prone to reactions, the bite might cause you to develop blisters around the affected area.
Can Midges Transmit Diseases Through Bites?
Biting midges are annoying no doubts; however, none of these insects is known to transmit diseases to humans. Albeit, they are capable of carrying some animal diseases which results in pains for the animals alongside frustration for the owner.
Biting midges have been known to transmit a couple of viruses, but this has not affected humans in any way so far.
What Attracts Midges?
Non-biting midges seem to be attracted to very bright light; however, this is not all there is to it. One interesting fact is that midges sometimes are attracted by the odours our bodies naturally produce. (CO2), (Lactic Acid)
Midges find some people more attractive than others; this goes a long way to explain why some people get bitten more frequently than others.
Furthermore, midges can also be attracted by certain deodorants, perfumes, aftershave, amongst others.
What Time Are Midges Mostly Active?
When visiting an area that is infested by midges, knowing what time of the day, these insects are active can help a great deal. This will help you avoid going out at such times.
Midges are at their peak period in the early hours of the morning, right before dawn. Besides, they are also very active in the evening, once the light begins to fall.
This doesn’t mean they do not bite at any given the time of day. It only means you can avoid staying outdoors at periods when they are most active.
How to Avoid Midge Bite
While midges might be very difficult or almost impossible to get rid of, specific measures can be taken to avoid getting bitten by them.
Travelling to a midge infested area will mean doing everything possible to ensure these creatures do not ruin your stay.
Below is a list of possible ways to enjoy your stay wherever you find yourself without the rude interruption of midges.
· Set Midge Traps
Midge traps have been known to be very effective in the fight against midges. They are placed in areas infested by midges to capture and reduce their number significantly. What this trap does is to mimic a human or any other mammal and attract midges through the release of CO2.
In addition to this, the midge trap also makes use of heat, moisture, water trap, light, amongst several others. It has a vacuum fan that draws midges in once they are drawn to the trap. Sometimes, midges can also be trapped with the use of a sticky glue trap.
Setting a midge trap goes a long way in making the area safe and bearable for dwellers.
· Midge Repellants
In addition to setting a midge trap, some form of repellant can also be used to get rid of midges or reduce their operation. Different midge repellants exist out there in varying degrees of efficacy.
Getting one that can get the work done will save your skin from the scars created by these insects.
· Midge Nets and Coverage
Total coverage is adequate when it comes to keeping midges off completely. Another advantage of a midge net is that it covers your head and helps you see clearly when in a midge infested area, whether or not the midges can bite.
While the midge net protects your entire face, you can ensure your body is fully covered. This can be achieved by wearing long sleeves and tucking in trousers into your socks to protect your arms and legs.
In addition to this, you can wear a hand glove to protect your hands. As long as you leave no room for midges to gain access to your body, they will stay back.
· Use Air-Conditions
Midges dwell indoors as well as outdoors. However, they can’t thrive in cold environments. One excellent way to get rid of them inside your living space is to set up the air-conditioning.
This will also keep them from entering your building.
· Set Up Small-mesh Nets
Midges are tiny insects which serve as an advantage to them when gaining access into places. You can stop them from entering your apartment by fixing even smaller nets, mesh nets with holes too small.
The presence of this net will make it impossible for them to gain entry as they can’t fit into it.
· Insect Repellants
Some natural insect repellants exist out there, applying them on any part of your skin that is exposed will help get rid of midges and other insects surrounding you. The result is temporary; however, as midges will resume their duties once the scent wears off.
· Starting a Fire
When camping in a midge infested area, starting a bonfire can help keep the midges away from your immediate environment. The smoke from fire repels midges and makes them stay away.
However, you have to sit in the path of the smoke to prevent midges from perching and biting you.
· Bug Zapper
Bug zapper is an electrocution trap that can reduce the population of midges in your house drastically. It can be placed outside, especially in bright areas that midges are easily attracted to.
This electrocution trap can kill several midges after getting them trapped. While it might not get rid of all, it reduces their number significantly.
What To Do After A Midge Bite
Not everyone will be fortunate enough to escape getting bitten by midges. The pain from these insects can be excruciating and proper care is needed to treat the affected area.
Below is a list of things to do after getting bitten by midges.
Your skin might get itchy after a midge bite; however, try as much as you can to avoid scratching the affected areas. If you have kids who have been bitten, ensuring their nails are trimmed short is very necessary.
Scratching increases the risk of getting infected. If blisters begin to form, avoid bursting too.
After getting bitten, having a shower before bedtime can help stop or reduce the itch depending on individual reaction. However, ensure you opt for water with a cooler temperature. This is because excessive heat can make matters worse.
While this works well for kids who have been bitten by midges, it might not be as effective when used on adults.
Bathing the affected area with salt water will also minimize the pain and itchiness. For the best result, this can be carried out in a pool area.
There are certain medications explicitly designed for bites. Speaking with a doctor or pharmacist will help in determining the right medication for you.
Raise the area
Raising the affected area after a bite has occurred can go a long way in reducing swelling. You can place it on an elevated object or anywhere that lifts it a little bit.
Midges can leave their sting, hair or even tick behind on your skin after biting. You want to ensure none of these is stuck in your skin to avoid further complications. Leaving in stings can result in illnesses such as Lyme disease.
When removing stings, be careful not to pinch the stings with your fingers. This can result in spreading the venom along with other areas of your skin that are not affected. It is best to scrape it sideways using an item with a hard edge or your fingernail.
See a doctor
Some bites can be more extreme than others; this could be as a result of the person’s allergy to insect bites. In cases like this, the best solution would be to see a doctor immediately and get treated.
Sometimes, it can be almost impossible to avoid midges, especially when going to a midge infested area. However, understanding how these insects are attracted and also ways you can protect yourself can keep you out of harm’s way.
The next time you are visiting a midge infested area or get bitten by one, the steps above will be helpful.
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