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Midge flies are swarming Lake Michigan and Wisconsin waterways

Swarm of midges dancing in sunlight early in the morning. Natural background with soft focus and light spots.
Elena Belozorova
Adobe Stock
Midge flies fly around in very, very large numbers.

While walking along Lake Michigan or one of Wisconsin’s many rivers, you might have walked through a swarm of tiny flying bugs. They get everywhere — on your clothes, in your hair. So, what are these bugs that pop up every year?

PJ Liesch is an extension entomologist and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Insect Diagnostic Lab, and shares more about the midge fly.

While these midges don't bite, they can fly around in very, very large numbers.

Liesch suggests bringing a buff if you're down by the lake so midges won't get into your mouth. Midges are also attracted to light, so dimming gardening lights around your home can help reduce their presence too.

The midges are also linked to water, because, he says, the larvae are aquatic. And since the larvae are in the sediment of the lake, they feed on particles there and help filter the water.

Eventually, Liesch says the midges will go away. He points out that midges don't live too long because they don't have a functioning mouthpart. Essentially, the species of midges are living on fumes.

"They don't live very long, they fly up on land, they die — so you have movement of nutrients. If you think about the ecological cycles, it's like they come out of the lake and they're fertilizing the plants nearby. That has some impacts on plant growth and things like that. So it's really cool to think about some of the other impacts that they have out in nature," Liesch explains.

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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