How to Get Rid of Midges

7 Tips on How to Get Rid of Midges

In this article we’ll discuss 7 ways of how to get rid of midges. Over many years, the presence of non-biting midge swarms at Bedok Reservoir and Pandan Reservoir have been recorded in July, August and September. This hot and rainy time of the year makes the environment conducive for their multiplication.

The insect is not a new guest to Singapore but the spike in their numbers has caused more problems to us than before. The appearance of non-biting midges is similar to that of mosquitoes. However, if you look closely, you will notice some distinctive features such as the absence of proboscis (needle-like sucking mouthparts) and the more slender and longer body present in midges.

As their name implies, non-biting midges do not bite. Also, they do not transmit diseases. They are nuisance pests because they often appear in large swarms and the encounter with them can be annoying to some people.

How to get rid of midges? It is almost impossible to eliminate them completely as they are part of nutrient rich aquatic habitats. Nonetheless, we can prevent or reduce their breeding habitats.

7 Tips of How to Get Rid of Midges

1. Use insect repellent

Repellents do not kill midges but can repel them from staying close to you. You may be concerned about the chemical laden repellents that would harm your skin. However, the recent release of natural insect repellents in the market using natural occurring substances such as tea tree or citronella oil perhaps can help to put this thought aside.

Although non-biting midges will not harm us, they may cause nuisance, ruin our perfect outdoor lunch or dinner, and disrupt our workout routine. Applying insect repellent on your body will be the best natural way of how to get rid of midges.

2. Keep doors and windows tightly closed or screened

Remind yourself to always keep doors and windows tightly closed to prevent midges from gaining access into your home. You can screen your windows with fine mesh and make sure the holes are small enough to block midges (body length: 5 to 8mm) from flying in.

Doors are the most susceptible entry points for flying midges. Make sure the doors or windows are closed during dusk and dawn as these are the most active time for both midges and Aedes mosquitoes. Curtains can be installed to lower the chance for midges from entering.

3. Minimize the use of bright lights

Insects such as bees, flying ants and flying termites are attracted to lights because they use light to navigate their flight or simply because of the warmth given off by the lights. Midges are highly attracted to bright light. It is advisable to use yellow light bulbs or dim light especially at the main door to keep midges away from your home.

Relocate the bright lights that are located at entrances to other places or tint the light bulbs to pink or orange colour. One of the most recommended ways to keep midges away from your home is to switch off the lights that are not in use or reduce the use of lights at your home exteriors.

4. Prevent stagnant or slow-flowing water

Like mosquitoes, the life cycle of midges involves aquatic and terrestrial stages. The larvae and pupae of midges are found in water bodies such as lakes, ponds, water reservoirs, as well as any other stagnant or slow-moving water. One of the locations where pests are commonly found at home revolves around plants and greenery.

Over-watering of plants often causes the formation of stagnant water on the soil and planter boxes. The nutrients in the soil further facilitate the growth and development of midges. Avoid over-watering plants and loosen the soil regularly to prevent the formation of ponding water.

Drains with slow-flowing water are also ideal breeding sites of midges. The immature stages are able to withstand the weak water current in the drain and are constantly supplied with nutrients required for development. We can make the environment less conducive by improving the flow of drain water through the removal of blockages.

5. Reduce the use of fertilizer

As discussed earlier, midges prefer to breed in nutrient rich habitats. Fertilizers are meant to promote the growth of healthy plants but they can also provide nutrients to other organisms found in the garden such as millipedes and insects. Excessive use of fertilizer causes fertilizer runoff in the soil to nearer ponds or streams, supplying the water bodies with ample nutrients which then contribute to the development of midges.

Proper use of fertilizer and nutrient management should be employed to reduce the potential breeding sources for midges. Remember to always check and fertilize your plants according to the guidelines and directions of use. This does not only help to reduce midge population but also promotes the growth of healthy plants.

6.  Biological approach (Bti/ mosquito dunk)

You might have heard of a mosquito dunk (donut-shaped larvicide that slowly dissolves and kills mosquitoes). It contains a bacterium known as Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) which infects the guts (stomach) of the larvae. Bti is an environmentally friendly control agent as it does not affect non-target organisms.

In that case, it is safe to use Bti in the presence of aquatic animals such as fish and it does not kill beneficial insects such as honey bees. Besides using mosquito dunks to treat mosquito breeding, it can also be used to control the populations of other aquatic insects including midges. You can place a mosquito dunk in potential breeding sites of midges such as ponds or gutters and the larvicide will slowly release the Bti to kill the larvae in the water bodies.

7. How to get rid of midges: Seek help from professional

The recommended measures discussed above prevent midges from disturbing your life. However, their presence is often inevitable in uncontrollable situations or specific environments. Adoption of permanent measures is strongly advised to address and eliminate the root cause of midges. To help combat this pesky pest, you may seek help from our expert team.


midges in Singapore

Are There Midges in Singapore?

Yes, there are midges in Singapore. They can cause a lot of problems. A patron of an eatery in Teban Gardens recounted her experience with midges in Singapore:

“It was a fine afternoon and I was sitting at the corner of a bustling eatery, trying to fill my stomach after a morning of hard work. Set lunch was the perfect choice for a hungry soul. However, when I was about to start the lunch break with a sip of soup, I found that a bug was taking a nice warm dip in the soup. ‘Maybe I’ll skip the soup and let you have it.’ I told myself, and the bug. I was about to dig in when a swarm of bugs invaded my personal space and turned my peaceful lunch break into a horrifying experience that I will never forget.”

You may hear similar stories from people who live or work near Pandan Reservoir where tiny insects known as midges give the residents and local authorities serious headaches. There are two main groups of midges in Singapore, namely biting midges and non-biting midges.

Biting midges are insects in the order Ceratopogonidae. They are more commonly known as sand flies and some call them “No-See-Ums”. Adult biting midges feed on blood so they leave painful bites on humans as well as other animals. On the other hand, as the name suggests, non-biting midges do not bite as the adults do not feed.

Habitat and Life Cycle

Non-biting midges are in the order Chironomidae which houses more than 10,000 species. Their life cycles are similar to that of mosquitoes and flies which undergo 4 developmental stages, namely egg, larval, pupal and adult stages.

Midges in Singapore can be found in stagnant or slow-flowing water bodies such as drains, ponds, lakes and water reservoir. Female midges lay eggs on water surface, in masses which contain up to 3000 eggs. After 2 to 3 days, the eggs sink to the bottom of water where they hatch into larvae. They feed on sediments and organic matters that are found at the bottom of the water.

The larvae of certain species are well-known as “bloodworms” which are used as bait or fish food. After 2 weeks of larval development, the midges spends 3 more days in the pupal stage before they emerge as adults. Adult midges do not feed and they spend the only 2 days of their lives entirely for mating and continuing the family line.

The high reproductive capability of midges causes a large number of eggs to be laid, and adults will emerge at the same time forming large swarms. Favourable conditions such as optimal temperature and the presence of ample food and breeding sites facilitate the emergence of large number of midges in Singapore during certain times of the year.

Mosquitoes vs Midges in Singapore

Midges are often mistaken as mosquitoes for their similar appearance. However, their differences can be recognised upon close examination. Firstly, as adult midges do not eat or drink, they do not possess proboscis. Proboscis is a needle-like mouthpart found on insects such as mosquitoes and butterflies that is used to suck liquids such as nectar and blood.

Another distinct physical appearance of midges is that their bodies are usually longer and more slender than that of mosquitoes. One of the most commonly found midges in Singapore has a distinct green coloured body. Unlike mosquitoes, midges do not transmit diseases and they are classified as nuisance pests.

How Do We Control Midges in Singapore?

Although non-biting midges are harmless and do not bite humans, a large number of them are a nuisance and can interfere with outdoor activities. It is almost impossible to eliminate them completely as they are part of nutrient rich aquatic habitats. However, tackling them using drastic measures are sufficient to control them under the threshold level. Controlling non-biting midges in Singapore can be divided into insecticidal, biological and physical controls.

The substantial number of non-biting midges present in Bedok and Pandan reservoirs of Singapore has led to the increase of fogging frequency to twice daily by PUB (Public Utilities Board). The reason for this is to target the most active time of non-biting midges in Singapore so that they will be interfered with the treated zone during their swarming activities.

Fogging is carried out as a “quick fix” solution to those flying adult non-biting midges. The chemical used is permethrin, which is certified and recognised by both WHO (World Health Organization) and NEA (National Environment Agency). Reservoir dykes, drains, and surrounding vegetation at Bedok and Pandan are the focal point for treatment as those are the breeding sources of midges in Singapore.

Biological approach of using Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) larvicide to kill midge larvae is another environmentally friendly practice used by the government of Singapore. Bti is a naturally occurring bacterium in soil that is capable of producing toxins which only specify in targeting the larva of aquatic insects.

Hence, it is safe as it does not pose any risk and toxicity to humans and animals. More importantly, water quality is not affected by Bti application. PUB of Singapore is doing well in applying and increasing the dosage of Bti to the bottom of the reservoir to prevent the larvae from hatching into the adult stage.

On the other hand, inspection and removal of breeding sources are also carried out to reduce the midge population. The method: physical removal of midge eggs floating on the surface of the reservoir. A 3 metres high netting has been placed along the edges of the reservoir to prevent the adult midges from being blown from the reservoirs to the residential areas (midges are weak fliers, easily blown by wind).

Furthermore, to attract adult midges from keeping within the reservoirs, strong spotlights at pumping stations of reservoirs remain on from 7am to 7pm. Recently, thousands of fish, guppies, mollies and swordtails, were introduced and released into Pandan Reservoir. The strategy is to target the pupae of midge, which act as the prey of those released fish.

Controlling the population of midges in Singapore is not an easy challenge but we are certainly taking it on. With more research and knowledge about the insects, we will be able to come up with new innovative measures to keep their populations under check.