Midges, also known as no-see-ums or biting midges, are tiny flies with an annoying bite. These insects are found in various habitats, including swamps, lakes, and rivers. They are common during the summer months and can make outdoor activities, such as hiking or camping, unpleasant. However, as with many other insects, midges have natural predators that help control their population.
What are Midges?
Before discussing the predators of midges, it is essential to know more about these tiny flies. Midges belong to the family Ceratopogonidae and are typically less than 1/8 inch long. They are found worldwide, but their distribution varies depending on the species.
Female midges feed on blood, while male midges feed on nectar from flowers. Their bites can cause itching and allergic reactions in some individuals. Midges are most active at dawn and dusk and prefer humid conditions.
Natural Predators of Midges
Several animals feed on midges and help control their population. These predators can be divided into two categories: aquatic and terrestrial.
Midges lay their eggs in water or moist soil. Therefore, aquatic predators play a crucial role in controlling midge populations.
Fish: Many species of fish feed on midge larvae and pupae found in water bodies such as lakes and ponds. Fish species that prey on midges include trout, bass, bluegill, and sunfish. Some fish species have been introduced to certain areas specifically to control midge populations.
Amphibians: Frogs, toads, and salamanders also eat midge larvae found in water bodies. These amphibians use their long sticky tongues to catch midges.
Birds: Water birds such as ducks, herons, and egrets feed on midges. They catch midges while they are flying or take them from the surface of the water.
Terrestrial predators are important in controlling adult midge populations. These predators catch midges while they are flying or resting on vegetation.
Bats: Many species of bats feed on insects, including midges. Bats catch midges while they are flying and can eat thousands of midges each night.
Spiders: Some spider species, such as jumping spiders and orb weavers, catch midges in their webs. They use their silk to wrap up the midges before consuming them.
Predatory Insects: Several predatory insects, such as damsel bugs and assassin bugs, feed on midges. They use their sharp mouthparts to pierce the midge’s exoskeleton and suck out their body fluids.
Midges can be a nuisance to humans, but natural predators play an important role in controlling their population. Aquatic predators such as fish and amphibians control midge larvae found in water bodies, while terrestrial predators such as bats and spiders catch adult midges while they are flying or resting on vegetation.
It is essential to note that human activities such as habitat destruction and pollution can negatively affect the natural predators of midges. Therefore, it is crucial to conserve natural habitats and reduce pollution levels to ensure that these predators can continue to control midge populations naturally.