Monday, February 15, 2010

Midges and Lake Flies

I am sitting in my office in Bromley, Christchurch, looking out the window on this dull but mild morning. On the glass are several midges or lake flies. The Kiwicare offices are close to the Christchurch City Council treatment plant and oxidation settling ponds. The ponds are ideal breeding grounds for insects that breed in water. The larvae of midges are known as blood worms and feed on decaying matter found on lake beds.

The New Zealand midges are native flying insects associated with water such as lakes and so are often referred to as Lake Flies. They should not be confused with the biting midges found in the northern hemisphere. The adults are 5-10mm in size and do not bite, having no mouth parts. The adults only live for around 36 hours. However, they can become a considerable nuisance when they congregate in very large numbers during warm weather. They may be seen in large clouds around lakes and will be attracted by lights and settle on light coloured surfaces.
I recall several years ago calling on poor home owners only a couple of blocks from here. They were almost unable to leave their home because of the clouds of midges that had congregated on and around their house. It was almost impossible to breathe without breathing in the midges. This was very unpleasant for them. Treatment with surface insecticides were only able to partially help because new insects appeared as fast as they were killed by the treatment. But at least the owners were able to go about their business again after treatment. Thankfully the ponds have not had as bad a year for midges since then but numbers can be a nuisance even on normal years. I wonder what this year will hold in store.

Another place where the lake flies are often found and cause a problem is driving out to Little River on Banks Peninsula. Here the flies breed in Lakes Ellsmere and Forsyth and clouds hang above the road in such numbers that the fly squash on the windscreens become a hazard to safe driving. Windscreen wash and wipers only serve to smear the dead insects on the windscreen. On these days the helpful people at the Little River Garage provide free windscreen washing facilities to drivers on their way to Akaroa.

The use of NO Flies or NO Bugs Super will reduce the numbers of midges congregating on your home and will at least reduce the nuisance.

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