Midges are minuscule winged insects that belong to the order Diptera or true flies. They can either be biting (family Ceratopogonidae) or non-biting (family Chironomidae)—both troublesome pests in their respective ways.
Avoiding, eliminating, and protecting yourself against these bothersome insects entails a thorough understanding of what makes them tick. Perhaps one fundamental question, to begin with, is: what do midges eat?
What Do Midge Larvae Eat?
Midges spend the majority of their entire lives as worm- or caterpillar-like larvae.
At this phase of their life cycle, biting and non-biting midges have nearly identical diets. They mainly feed on what is available in their aquatic or semi-aquatic habitats, relying mostly on the nutrients from decaying organic matter such as algae, fungi, and other vegetation, as well as other detritus and animal manure.
Biting midge larvae, in particular, may also be opportunistic omnivores, feeding on small insects and nematodes if these are readily available.
What Do Non-Biting Midges Eat?
Upon reaching maturity, non-biting midges tend to stick to eating organic debris.
Some human-caused pollutants such as fertilizer runoff actually serve as viable sources of nourishment for these insects. In fact, with this fact, their presence in bodies of water is commonly recognized as an indicator of pollution levels.
What Do Biting Midges Eat?
As adults, biting midges eat mostly plant sap and nectar for their own day-to-day metabolic needs.
However, the main difference between biting and non-biting midges is that for the former, reproduction requires feeding on a blood meal. For this, female no-see-ums depend on vertebrates, with livestock and humans being primary hosts. Other animals such as birds, reptiles, and amphibians may also serve as secondary sources.
Being mostly opportunistic feeders, female biting midges rely on the carbon dioxide emissions of nearby prey to find their blood meals.