Midges are true flies that are closely related to mosquitoes and resemble them somewhat but are non-biting. They can emerge and fly any day of the year when the air is warm, even in mid-winter. Males often cluster in large swarms, usually in bright sunlight and around water where the females will visit to lay their eggs. Since most species are attracted to light, midges are often found around windows and doors of houses.
Midges are not harmful and cannot transmit West Nile Virus. They lack the sucking mouthparts (proboscis) that are found on mosquitoes for use in feeding on blood and nectar. Midges have no ability to bite and do not carry any human diseases.
Like their mosquito cousins, midges spend the first part of their life, the larval stage, in water. Midge larvae can be found in almost any freshwater habitat, including lakes, ponds, streams, and even sewage treatment plants. The larvae of most species feed on algae and decaying organic material, and are an important source of food for many aquatic animals, including several fish species.
Members of the insect family Chironomidae, these tiny flies range in size from around 1 cm to as small as 1 mm. Midge species vary greatly in color, including species that are gray, brown, black, green, and white, often with striped patterns on the thorax and abdomen. The wings are clear, lacking the patterns of scales found on mosquito wings.