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Bug of the day — Chironomids

Move over, lovebugs. You’re not the only flying plague in this state.

See the cute little insect in the photo? That’s a chironomid. They look a bit like mosquitoes but they’re actually flies.

We’re not sure what species that is, and even insect taxonomists (the folks who decide what species is what) have a hard time distinguishing between all the species in this family, because there are so many of them and many have similar appearance.

You can call them Chironomids. (It’s pronounced “Cairo” like the Egyptian city, followed by “nom” as in “nom-nom, this pizza is delicious,” followed by “ids,” like the Freudian term.)

Anyway, imagine that one cute little insect multiplied by, oh, about 2 million. Now imagine all of them are within the confines your yard.

Let that notion settle in your mind for a moment.

There’s no real danger, mind you – Chironomids don’t bite, or sting, or vector any diseases, so far as we humans are aware.

Nonetheless, these small flies can be a huge pain in the neck for people living in the areas where they’re common, simply because there are so, so many of them.

Commonly called blind mosquitoes or nonbiting midges, Chironomids dwell near lakes and ponds. This is because their larvae are aquatic, and need to grow in bodies of water that feature a muddy bottom.

The adults tend to emerge all at once, and if you live in a place where Chironomids are commonplace, hoo-boy, you will know it.

One BugWeek Web Team member had this to say – “I lived in Lake County for a few months one spring, in a little town called Howey-in-the-Hills. There was a small, stagnant lake down the street from the house where I lived.

“Every morning when I walked outside to drive to work, there would be thousands of these bugs resting on the shady side of my car. It was impossible to get in without stirring them up, and they were so fragile that the least touch would squash them, leaving green streaks behind. I pretty much gave up wearing white shirts because of them.

“In the afternoons, they would fly around in such profusion that it was hard to avoid inhaling them.

“There was a convenience store I used to visit on my way in to the office, and dead Chironomidae were piled up on the windowsills inside the store, a couple of inches deep in same places.

“There are worse things, of course, but it was mind-boggling to see just how many of these insects there were.’”

Read more about Chironomidae at this EDIS document.

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