Swarms of midges often mistaken for mosquitoes are being reported in Bay-front communities including Redwood Shores and Foster City — and its nothing to worry about, according to the San Mateo County Mosquito & Vector Control District (SMCMVCD).
While they may look like mosquitoes, they are a completely different insect. And better: unlike mosquitoes, midges cannot bite, which is why they are considered harmless. On Tuesday, the agency released photos to help residents learn the difference in appearance between midges and mosquitoes.
Swarms of midges can occur in the Spring with warm weather and a lot of available fresh water, and particularly after a busy rain season. After living their lives as worm-like larvae at the bottom of water sources, in Spring they will make the transition to adults by drifting slowly up from the bottom of the Bay and resting on the water surface to pupate and prepare to take to the sky.
“When they become adults, they lose the ability to eat or drink and will live only 3 days before they starve to death,” the district said. “To maximize the chance of finding a mate in that short time, the midges will rise together in huge numbers called ‘mating swarms’ which may be blown into shore to rest on buildings, windows, or plants. They are particularly attracted to light sources so porches with lights are a favorite place to hang out.”
The swarms will die out in just a few weeks. Meanwhile, they make for delicious food for the babies of birds like swallows, swifts and hummingbirds.
In addition to midges, SMCMVCD reported also hearing about “giant mosquitoes” in the county, which fortunately are crane flies.