Midges—regardless of species—are no doubt pests. Biting midges, or Ceratopogonidae, cause itchy, painful, and overall irritating lesions in humans and livestock. Non-biting midges, or Chironomidae, can be equally bothersome, causing blockage and contamination in air and water filtration systems.
However, for some, these methods are not always the most cost-effective nor feasible for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, there is unfortunately no other option than to mitigate these pests’ effects while simply waiting for an infestation to die out. In these unfortunate circumstances, you might find yourself asking: how long do midges live?
FACTORS THAT AFFECT HOW LONG MIDGES LIVE
The answer to the question is not as straightforward as one might think. After all, both biting and non-biting midges are incredibly diverse fly families, with over 5,600 and 10,000 species, respectively.
Beyond species, several other factors also influence how long midges live. Environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and sunlight all play a huge part in determining these flies’ lifespan.
Most species of midges thrive in warmer climates, with the heat accelerating their metabolism and ultimately resulting in overall quicker completion of the life cycle. Conversely, in colder places such as Scotland where midges are also prevalent, lifespans may be increased by more than 9 months due to slowed development.
It is not uncommon for midges to suspend development due to cold weather or a change in season. This is called overwintering. Midge eggs and larvae survive frozen conditions, only to progress into pupation once it gets warmer.
Temperature as a factor is so significant that its impact can be observed even within a single geographical area. To illustrate, C. anthracinus, a type of non-biting midge in Denmark, were observed to mature at different rates depending on the part of the lake they inhabited. Those that lived in shallower and, therefore, warmer parts of the lake emerged in half the time it took for those in the deeper, cooler parts.
Other Environmental Conditions
Not only does temperature impact how long midges live by affecting their metabolic rate, but humidity and sunlight can also have a profound effect on the sources of nutrition available for midges.
For example, some algae bloom only at the right temperature and with ample sun. Similarly, most fungi require a certain level of warmth and humidity to grow. The presence or absence of food sources such as these can affect midges’ growth, development, and maturation.
Midge larvae—especially biting midges, or no-see-ums—feed on a variety of other small organisms such as algae and nematodes. At the same time, though, these larvae are also a main food source for birds, fish, and even larger insects and arachnids.
Thriving ecosystems with these predators naturally cuts the average lifespan of an area’s midge population short.
HOW LONG DO MIDGES LIVE?
While there is no definitive answer to this question due to the factors discussed above, there are some general time ranges for each stage of these insects’ lifecycles that you can refer to.
During warmer months in ideal outdoor conditions, the midge’s entire lifecycle can be completed in as little as a few weeks.
The first phase of their lifecycle is relatively short—midges’ eggs hatch within 2-10 days.
The next stage of their lives is the larval stage, which is made up of four stages, or instars. Most of their development occurs during the larval phase, making it the longest at around 14 days. Again, this assumes ideal climates and conditions. As this phase is also the most prone to variation due to environmental factors, in certain cases it has been known to extend to as much as 9 months or even a year.
Midges then briefly go through a pupal stage of about three days before surfacing. They then emerge as adults within hours of surfacing.
As adults, biting and non-biting midges’ lifespans differ a bit. Mature chironomids have little time for anything more than mating and producing eggs, as the final stage of their lives lasts only 3-5 days. Biting midges, on the other hand, can live for 2-7 weeks given the right conditions.
HOW LONG DO MIDGES LIVE INDOORS?
So far, this article has discussed midges outdoors, in their natural habitat, so to speak. However, certain species of midges may also occur indoors, or make their way into your space from nearby propagation sites such as lakes or ponds. In such cases, how long do midges live?
If everything they need to live—food, water, heat—is available, midges can carry on as usual indoors. Upon minimizing or removing their access to these, though, they tend to survive for only 24 hours or less.
HOW LONG DO MIDGES LIVE – CONCLUSION
It is difficult to give an exact prediction about a midge’s lifespan. This can vary greatly according to species and various other factors.
Still, if for any reason you are choosing to deal with midges by “waiting it out,” chances are, it will end up taking a couple of weeks. Be sure to arm yourself with ways to avoid them (and getting bitten) during that time.