In the last couple of days, my windowsills have accumulated drifts of tiny black bug corpses. I’ll clean up the mess one day and there’s that much more the next day. I always thought of this buggy onslaught as a spring ritual so I decided to find out more about why these critters, in their hundreds, have decided just now that my home was as good a place as any to give themselves up and return to Fly Valhalla.
Reportedly, they’re called midges but the kind we play host to in Southern Ontario could be any one of a thousand different varieties of the species. CBC news did a video report on them last spring that does a good job of explaining midge basics which include factoids such as:
- They don’t bite.
- They make their homes in lakes, rivers and standing water–so just about everywhere in Southern Ontario.
- They won’t decimate your garden.
- Their natural predators are birds and fish.
When you see a swarm of them, backlit by the setting sun, and think “My, how they look like teensy golden fairies doing a shindig in the air”, keep in mind that what you’re actually witnessing is them in the act of procreation. So if you bike through a cloud of them, keep your mouth shut or suffer mental images to make David Cronenberg blush. Their aerial orgies actually occur several times between spring and fall. My windowsills are probably hosting the last of their do-it-and-drop parties for this year.
News reports, like the ones you’ll find using the links above, often blame a snow-heavy preceding winter and a rainy summer for a boom in their populations. But, according to a couple of researchers in the department of Entomology at North Carolina State University, there can be an additional reason–fertilizer run-off from lawns, gardens, golf courses and farm fields can develop “nuisance populations of midges.”
Makes you want to think twice about how you’re feeding your garden plants. Some products are making more than flowers multiply.