You may have experienced this scene where tonnes of tiny flying insects swarming around you, resting on your car or window screens. There is also various news around the encounter with these pests and numerous eliminated methods tried but without much success. In fact, these are midges, which tends to be mistaken and confused with mosquitoes due to some similarity. Rentokil Singapore shares the difference between these two pests, where do midges come from and how to get rid of such insects effectively.
What are midges?
They are non-biting insects and these chironomids resemble mosquitoes and typically present in a water-driven environment. Similarly, they breed and lay eggs in water, however are usually on larger water bodies and they grow through the four stages of their life cycle in a 3 weeks period. This includes eggs, larvae, pupae and adults.
Midges require moisture to reproduce and lay their eggs; in addition, they will not survive from dehydration. On average, they can lay up to 450 eggs and 7 batches in total in their lifespan. This equates to as many as 3000 eggs in total. Depending on the breeding condition such as temperature and moist level, they can hatch as fast as two days.
They have a greenish to brownish body and that is around 1/8 inch size that comes in swarms because of its attraction to lights and carbon dioxide. Hence, you may find them lurking on car screens or light beams, car pouches with lampposts or brightly lit environments indoors.
How midges came about?
Midges are typically active in the morning and evening and prefer cooler climate. They emerge from water bodies such as the reservoir in swarms and fly to surrounding areas with bright lights that attract them. These midges are easily blown away from the water surfaces and drawn closer to us due to the wind and their lightweight body. This is especially so during the monsoon season where there is regularity of rainfall and stronger wind condition. Hence, you can consider installing insect screens to minimise midges’ entries into your home particularly during high-risk seasons.
Signs of midges’ infestation
Pest detection is the first step to identify early signs of pest infestation. Here are some signs to look out:
- Presence of tiny insects that have two wings that are hairy and pigmented
- Usually comes in a swarm and large clusters instead of individually
- May experience tiny, sharp and burning midges bite on your body
- School of midges or insects sticking on window panes, car screens and body and surfaces
- Larvae breed in water bodies such as reservoirs, ponds, aquatic plants, lakes, rivers and drains.
Are midges dangerous and harmful?
Compared to mosquitoes, midges are generally less harmful and deadly. There are two categories of midges, as biting (or known as sand flies) and non-biting chironomids. For the non-biting, they do not have piercing mouthparts that bite and suck blood, hence they do not spread diseases like the dengue fever symptoms. For the biting midges, they require blood meals and leave painful, red and itchy bites on their hands and legs. They inject an anticoagulant as they bite and tend to be repeated bites experienced. This is due to the release of pheromones that sends an alert to their members on available hosts. What do midges eat? Besides blood protein, they feed on nectar and juices similarly like mozzies.
Are midges and mosquitoes the same thing? Here are some differences between species:
- Midges do not have proboscis that is used to suck blood like mosquitoes
- They are slimmer and longer in outlook compared to the mozzies
- Green to brownish in colour compared to Aedes mosquitoes that is dark colour with marking or stripes on the body
- Midges do not transmit harmful vector diseases but are considered as annoying pests
- Generally harmless but pose lifestyle stress and outdoor frustration
How do you get rid of midges?
Firstly, we can carry out regular fogging at the targeted premise or environment with high midges’ activity and vegetation sites. Secondly, larviciding to remove larvae breeding will be well integrated to eliminate both adult and larvae life stages. Thirdly, conduct regular detection and monitoring of new breeding sites developed. Fourthly, proofing such as netting to prevent emerging midges to blow towards the residential premises. Finally, to take additional control measures during peak seasons.
Useful midges’ prevention checklist
Pest protection has to be both the effort of pest control companies and individuals. Besides ensuring adequate pest control services are in place to manage midges’ infestation, we can also take extra prevention measures to protect ourselves. This includes applying pest proofing and insect screens to deny entry. Seal any gaps and crevices that the tiny midges can slip in. Some believe in using scent repellent such as citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary and lavender to deter midges and mosquitoes away.
When outdoors, you can consider applying an insect repellent conveniently sold in retail stalls or online. In addition, eliminate any standing water or moisture to allow midges to breed and develop further. Lastly, try to place lightings such as lamps away from the windows or door entrance or turn them off when not in use as they attract midges and invite an invasion opportunity. Above all, fit blinds or curtains to block midges when there is a need to keep windows open for ventilation.
Key risk areas where you find midges
Their habits reside around areas or locations with water. This includes freshwater aquatic ecosystems such as rivers, streams, reservoirs, lakes and ponds. On the other hand, the marine ecosystem would be environments with salt water such as coral reefs, ocean and lagoons. However, due to the wind condition, we will find midges near us. For instance, on surfaces such as windows, door panels, car bodies, buses, seats, tables, corridors, walls, pillars and ceilings. They can latch onto us such as sticking onto the clothes, hairs and hover around the food we consume.
Challenges around eliminating midges
Midges form part of the natural aquatic ecosystem and are challenging to eliminate due to several factors:
- Climate changes such as warm weather fasten the development process of midges
- They have short lifespan however reproduction are in huge volumes within 3 weeks
- Potential wrong detection of pest identity leading to incorrect pest treatments
- Insufficient or inconsistent pest control services that results in efficacy lapses
- Seasonality such as monsoon and wind directions that blows midges to residential sites
- Presence of water bodies that midges require to breed and emerge as adult
Why is it important to differentiate between midges and mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are causing rising trend in dengue cases in Singapore
The mosquito population is a consistent upward trend and expected to exceed the historical high and surpass the worst record of over 22,000 cases in 2013. Several news reports have been on mainstream media reporting the high number of weekly cases, mosquito breeding sites and dengue clusters cited since the early of this year. This is especially concerning that the majority of the workforces are still working from home during this COVID-19 period and some companies are putting their employees on this scheme until the end of the year. This puts the workforce at risk of contracting dengue fever as Aedes Mosquitoes are active in the daytime and often found indoors in residential homes. Hence, it is important to differentiate both midges and mosquitoes in order to carry mosquito control services to eliminate mosquitoes in the house.
Several challenges keeping control of mosquito population
While we have constantly been facing challenges in dealing with midges in Singapore, the same applies in mosquito prevention. There are many efforts around reducing mosquitoes through the Government and individual effort; however, we are still experiencing a growing vector problem in Singapore. There is the Mozzie Wipeout Campaign spearheaded by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Project Wolbachia that aims to reduce Aedes Mosquitoes by utilising male mosquitoes that carry the Wolbachia bacterium. We face additional challenges including:
- The mosquitoes’ immunity and resistance to the chemical and active ingredient
- Climate changes with rainfall that forms receptacles and warm climates that increase mozzie activities
- Rise in the dominant Serotype viruses of the Denv-3 where individuals have low immunity
- Cross infestation risks on premises without engaging mosquito control
- Housekeeping negligence and lifestyle gaps that promotes mosquito breeding
Growth in dengue clusters and mosquito breeding sites
While we monitor the number COVID-19 cases and active clusters in Singapore, there is an active reporting of dengue clusters on the growth amounting to 190 cases as of June. As Singapore goes through the circuit breaker, there is a five-fold rise in Aedes Mosquito larvae cited in residential homes. As most premises are locked down during this two-months closure, vacated premises and construction sites observed growth in mosquito breeding sites.
Dengue cluster is a localised area that has two or more dengue cases recorded within 14 days apart and a proximity of 150m. It is important to understand if you are residing within the high risk or red zone that has over ten dengue cases. However, for residents residing out of these cluster zones does not mean you are safe. This is because mosquitoes’ travels and it may turn up in your vicinity without mosquito pest control in place.
What are the various flying insects we need to be aware of?
For non-trained individuals like us, we can differentiate crawling and flying insects, but unable to identify the flying insects species accurately. Besides mosquitoes and midges, there are also various flying pests hovering around us. There are specific treatments targeting different pest species.
Common pests that we will encounter especially when we are café or restaurant where there is food preparation and consumption activities. The common flies’ species include houseflies, fruit flies and bluebottle flies. They are attracted to light, food source availability and require water to keep surviving. Pest control services for houseflies are different from midges and mosquitoes where pest control specialists install insect light traps with a glue board on the wall. Additional foaming blitz and residual spray are applied depending on the pest infestation level.
They are swarmers that hovers around the home especially during wet weather or when there are new termite colonies or development taking place. These flying termites shed their wings that leave their discarded wings around windows sills and surfaces that are mistaken for dust or dirt. They are also commonly confused with ants like the carpenter ants that have similar association and presence around wood. Termite treatment is very different from those of mosquito control and houseflies treatment and is important to identify if that is flying termites swarming in your home in order to have the right and targeted treatment.
Bees and Wasps
Bees and wasps is another group of flying pests that put us in worry and fear when we come across them. Usually we will notice the beehives or wasp nest on the trees, roof spaces, attics, walls and eaves of buildings. Bees are actually pretty harmless and only sting when provoked or feel threatened. Wasps on the other hand are more aggressive, do sting and repeatedly usually, resulting in life threatening symptoms such as allergy. Please remember that you do not attempt to remove these nests and hives by yourself but to seek professional pest control expertise.
Engage in mosquito pest control in Singapore
It is essential to ensure engaging the correct and relevant pest control services. You can get rid of mosquitoes through a four-prong approach. Firstly, eliminate the adult mosquitoes through regular scheduled mosquito fogging. Secondly, remove mosquito breeding at key risk areas including drains, gutters, waded pools, gully traps, receptacles and any other stagnant water. Thirdly, to address visiting adult mosquitoes from other locations, you can consider placing mosquito traps to lure and trap these mosquitoes. In addition, it also spreads the active ingredient in a wider coverage to eliminate mosquito larvae at other breeding sites. Finally, mosquito prevention has to be an ongoing process by eliminating presence of receptacles. Above all, we want to avoid getting mosquito bites that potentially transmit dengue virus to us. Find out more about the Rentokil Initial In2care Mosquito Trap that is eco-friendly and safe.
Call Rentokil at 6347 8138 for a pest control solution today.