Midge Bites-Get Rid, Symptoms, Pictures, Pestbugs

What are biting midges?

Biting midges are small insects that have piercing and sucking mouth parts. They belong to the family of flies that are called Certoponidae. The biting midges are known to cause a lot of disturbance and nuisance when they bite especially in the coastal lagoons, mangrove forests, swamps and the tidal flats.

The midges feed during the dawn hours of the day and remain inactive during the day. The female midges are the only ones known to feed on blood while the male ones feed on vegetation, fluids and nectar.[1]

You should however not be confused between the biting and non-biting midges. The non-biting midges are larger and look like mosquitoes. They neither bite nor suck blood or carry diseases like the mosquitoes or the biting midges.

Non biting midges are nevertheless a greater nuisance than the biting midges and cause a lot of disturbance when in the surrounding. They form swarms and fly around the entire place till night time. During the day, they make your activities unpleasant because they can gain access to your ears or eyes.


Why and how do they bite?

The biting midges have mouthparts that make them able to pierce and suck blood while releasing saliva into the skin. The saliva injected into the skin prevents the blood from clotting and this in return allows them to suck more blood.

The female midges use the blood sucked as a source of proteins for the development of eggs. Therefore, the midges bite when they need a blood meal for the maturation of the eggs.

Symptoms of the bites

The bites from midges look like mosquito bites. They are however unusually smaller, red, itchy and painful. They can at times swell up to an alarming extent. There are cases when the bites get filled up with fluid thus forming blisters.

If you look keenly at the area of bite, you will notice a small hole of punctured skin. If you have ever had reactions to insect bites in the past, you may have an allergic reaction that is accompanied with swelling among other symptoms.

The itch from the bite results when the insects release their saliva into the skin. Jonathan Day, who is a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, tries to explain why mosquito bites itch.

The same explanation can be used to vividly explain the case of midge’s bites. Jonathan notes that the insects inject their saliva to your skin and in return, your immune system notices the saliva as foreign objects in the body.

As a result, the immune system prioritizes the release of a substance called histamine. The histamine production and release is the one responsible for the itching process and swelling that you encounter.[2]

There is a more severe reaction that you may show especially if you have been bitten before and if you have any disorder with your immune system. The bite may result into:

  • A large swollen area that appears red
  • Low degree of fever
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Hives

The reactions above are more common in children. This is according to the NHS United Kingdom.[3]

How long do midges bites last?

The length and duration of the symptoms following a bite by the midges depends on the prevailing environmental conditions as well as the particular species that bites you. It can however take about 3 to 22 weeks although this could even be longer.

Reviews from those who have been bitten before indicate that the itch and burning sensation might take long to go away depending on whether you scratch or take care of the bitten area. You should never scratch the area because this causes more trauma and injury to your skin.

Treatment Options (Medication)

The insect bites are small localized reactions and most times do not cause any alarm. However, they call for treatment when they make you uncomfortable. You can treat them based on whether they are large or small localized reactions. The medications you should take mainly provide symptomatic relief.

You can first take the painkillers for pain relief. They include ibuprofen and paracetamol. They are available over the counter and you can take them based on the specifications by the manufacturer. They can also provide some extent of inflammation relief.

There are a number of creams that you can also apply on the affected area from time to time. Crotamiton cream is one such creams.

You apply this cream three times in day or once a day if it is your child below three years of age. You can also use other corticosteroid creams to give a soothing effect and reduce the pain.

When your skin is broken or pierced, do not apply the cream. Further, do not scratch the skin once you have applied the cream or ointment to your skin as this might break the skin and give bacteria room to enter and cause more damage to your skin.

You can also take antihistamines that will prevent the excessive production of histamine as a result of the trigger by the immune system. You should take them orally or the doctor may give you an injectable dose for severe symptoms. For the blisters, do not poke or burst them because they give room for bacterial infections to set in. If the bite gets infected, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics.

Aspirin is another very useful and effective medication that you can go for. It helps control the inflammation that comes with the insect bites. You can swallow a tablet of the medication or wash the bitten area then rub a tablet of aspirin over the area.

Hydrocortisone cream is also available for your consideration. You can apply it on the affected area and it helps get rid of the inflammation in a very short time.

How to stop and relief itching

There are a number of approaches that you can undertake at home to get relief from the itch by midges.

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Use of milk paste

For successful relief from the itch,

  1. Make a paste using one part of powdered milk into 2 parts of water and a pinch of salt.
  2. Apply the mix to the bite
  3. The enzymes from the milk powder will neutralize the venom released by the insect and thus reduce the itch.
  4. Repeat this procedure as often as possible until you itch relief.

Tea tree oil

The oil has great anti-itch properties. It is also used to deliver you from the pain caused by the midge bite. All you have to do is;

  1. Take a few drops of pure oil and soak a cotton wool in the oil
  2. Dab the soaked cotton onto the bite but do not rub it in for some time
  3. It is an essential oil and you can therefore apply it to the affected area undiluted


This is a remedy that is most useful the moment you notice the bite on your skin. You just have to apply the vinegar directly to the bitten area. If the area of bite is large, then take a hot bath that contains about two and a half cups of vinegar. It is recommended that you use organic apple cider vinegar.

Aloe vera

This is an excellent remedy that has been used for a long time to cure itch from mosquitoes. Since the midge bites are similar to mosquito bites, it is still useful in midge bite itch control. Aloe vera also has a wide range of anti-bacterial properties which goes a long way to protect you from the itch.

Dry bar of soap

This is a simple and easy remedy that you can get at your disposal. What you have to do is apply the dry bar of soap directly to the bite. This relieves the itch within no time. Once you are done applying the soap, wash off the area with cold water as the itch fades away.


This is a remedy that is known for its tearing effect. A fresh piece of onion is capable of getting rid of the itch. You should take a fresh slice of onion and then apply it to the area affected for some minutes till the itching slowly goes away. After that, wash off the area with a lot of cold water.

Baking soda

Make a thick paste by mixing baking soda and water then apply to the area affected. The itch goes away within a short time when you use this remedy.


The most preferable is the cheap and pasty kind of toothpaste- the white one. It can help relieve the itch from the biting midges. It contains a number of ingredients like baking soda and menthol. They both contribute to the anti-itch property.


It contains antibacterial and antifungal properties. Due to these properties, it can help to reduce the risk of the skin surrounding the midges bite from getting an infection by bacteria or fungi. To benefit maximally;

  1. Mince the leaves of thyme although you can directly apply the leaves on the skin
  2. Make a concentrated liquid from the minced leaves by mixing them with boiling water
  3. Allow the thyme to steep with the water till cooling
  4. Then dip a cloth into the thyme infused water and then apply on the bitten area.
  5. Allow the cloth to stay on the bitten area for some time. You can add an ice cube to the cloth to provide an extra relief to the itch.


This is also a readily available remedy that you can apply on the itchy bite spot and get relief almost immediately. A drop of honey reduces the inflammation resulting from the bite and reduces the temptation to scratch, a common occurrence with midge bites.[4]

Getting rid of the midges

When midges meander or move around your home or house, they cause a lot of annoyance and this makes it hard to control. There are a number of approaches and techniques that you can use to control them before they cause such discomfort.

The first step is to put a tightly woven screen on the sides of your windows. The screens you use should have the smallest possible hole-openings. You then should keep the windows closed since midges are able to fly through tiny holes and then access your house.

Further, consider removing all the stagnant and pooled water around your home. You should ensure that you remove any potted plants away from the doors and windows of your house. Still water in containers acts are breeding and hiding places for the midges.

Traps are also useful in getting rid of midges from your home. You can pour about half an inch of apple cider vinegar into a glass or plastic bowl then add to it some drops of liquid detergent then mix them. The traps attract midges and while they attempt to land on the trap, they die off. You have to dispose the dead midges’ remains and then replace the vinegar and detergent mixture.

The other step that you can take is soak a cloth in pine oil then hang the cloth from the top of windows. This repels the midges from reaching your house. Attach the midline of the screen using pins to help make sure that the smell puts the insects away all through the entire window. You can then hang an additional cloth soaked in oil above the door.

The other step would entail the use of a fogger that is made from pyrethrin. In this case, you should follow the instructions given by the manufacturer in fogging your indoors. You should use insect repellants on your body once in the house. This helps repel the insects as well. This approach is a temporary remedy to the imminent problem.

More Prevention steps

Should keeping away the insects using the above approaches seem cumbersome, then there are a number of products that are available in the market for you to consider.

Smidge That Midge

This is a highly regarded repellant that comes with a pump spray. It is a water resistant formula that gives an immediate protection for as long as eight hours.

Avon’s skin so soft

Although this product was not initially made for the purpose of fighting midges, it was discovered that it repels midges. It is used by many people and has validated usefulness.

Buzz off spray

This one has a pungent smell that repels not only mosquitoes, nut the midges as well. You can apply it on your skin and it will provide an ideal protection to your skin against the midges. You should be aware that this repellant is capable of ruining plastics. The unique way with which it works is by preventing the midges from landing on your skin.

Some other approaches of avoiding the bites entail,

  • Avoiding the swampy areas or the wet sand when it is dawn or dusk.
  • Applying baby oil to your skin before you go out in the early morning or late evening
  • Cover your skin preferably with light cotton clothing.
  • Before you get out of the house, apply an insect repellant or lotion, especially if you have a hypersensitivity reaction after an initial bite by the same insect.


Midges Bites Images: How to Treat Bites of Midges

“One midge is an entomological curiosity, a thousand can be hell!”
_Doug Kettle

Barley Midge


Very accurately were put those words in 1962 by Kettle. Today we are discussing midges. ‘Midge’ as a term defines not any particular taxonomic group but is inclusive of various families of Nematoceran Diptera. To break it in layman’s words, Nematocera is also known as the long-horned fly. The term originated from the Greek word ‘Nemato’ meaning ‘thread’ and ‘cera’ meaning ‘horn’. On the other hand, ‘Diptera’ is also derived from the Greek ‘di’ meaning ‘two’ and ‘pteron’ meaning ‘wings’. Therefore, Diptera is an order of flies.
These 1-2 mm long flies have a body and legs built sturdier than gnats(Chironomidae) or mosquitoes(Culicidae).

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Do Midges Bite?

Not all midge bites. Some play important ecological roles. While some are prey to most insectivores, others take part in the various nutrient cycles. The ceratopogonid midge plays a very important role in pollinating of Theobroma Cacao or the cocoa tree.
However, there are surely the biting kinds. Anybody who has ever been in an intimate encounter with this nasty kind knows the pain well. Among all the midges, the Ceratopogonidae, also commonly known as ‘no-see-ums’ or ‘biting midges’ are the ones that make life quite troublesome when comes in close contact. There are more than 5000 species of this family which is present across the globe apart from the Antarctic and Arctic. Surprising much?
Of all the species, the one of utmost concern is the Culicoides species as this is mostly the vectors of disease-causing pathogen. These pests feed both on humans and other mammals. The most common livestock diseases that some of these pests spread are the Blue Tongue disease and African Horse Sickness.
The Ceratopogonidae has four stages of development namely egg, larva, pupa and imago or adult. Both the males and females feed on nectar and plant sap. However, the blood of vertebrates which includes humans is what the female mostly feeds on as it needs protein to lay eggs.

What Does A Midget Bite Look Like?

This super-annoying insect of the minuscule size can inflict pain of tremendous intensity. Well, that has been established quite well among the ones who have had the ‘not so pleasant experience’ of being prey to these nasty critters. This piece of information is, however, for the ones with lesser knowledge about midges.
The biting midges are the female ones, while the male midges usually feed off pollen and plant sap. Carbon dioxide in our breath attract midges to humans like a moth to fire and they can detect it from 200 meters away.
Midges bites look more or less like mosquito bites. However, it’s not easy to spot a midge biting you but you are only left with a sharp sting or burning sensation as the aftermath of the bite. A midge bite is often a small, red, itchy bump. If watched closely, a small hole can also be spotted within the bump where the skin has been punctured by the bite. Cases have also been reported of developing fluid-filled blisters around the bite.
So, now you know if the last time you were a feast to unseen little dementors, they could have been midges.

Symptoms Of Midges Bites

These pesky critters can inflict greater pain with their bites and the symptoms are quite easy to tell. Persistent itchy bites but without any insect to be spotted is one of the easier ways to tell that you have been food to a midge. Sometimes the itch is persistent and can continue for hours at a stretch. There are possibilities of severe local allergic reaction. However, the intensity of it can vary from person to person.

How To Treat A Midge Bite?

It’s not easy to control biting midges. However, by fogging by insecticides a temporary solution can be achieved. As soon as the chemical droplets settle, the midges can reinfest those areas. Another way of keeping midges at bay is by using residual sprays. But the effect lasts only up to 6 weeks.
While on a spraying spree to get rid of those midges, we should keep in mind that too much exposure to residual spray can also affect other insects and spider population.
There are remedies to treat a midge bite at home. At the outset, the area must be bathed with salted water and then ice pack can be applied to keep the burning sensation under control. A mild antihistamine can also be applied for some relief.
Tea tree oil proves to be a good remedy too.
The most common reaction is caused by intensive itching. Therefore, wear those oven mitts if you may, but keep your nails away from the affected area.
In case of a severe allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention.
Nevertheless, one can always prevent such pain by taking some caution when visiting those relatives in the tropics. Covering your skin is the most common of all. You can also try and stay away from swampy wetlands. Another measure is the use of baby oil mixed with Dettol before stepping outside. Using Insect repellents that contain either diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin is the most effective measure.

Final Words

There are a hundred ways of beating these bugs. However, one should be much aware of the fact that everything you apply to keep these little ‘beasts’ away is also going to repel everyone else. So, choose your weapon wisely to combat this midge menace. Usually, midges prefer the blood of cattle over humans. However, most of the times humans do become the nutrient target for the pregnant female midges who need protein to lay eggs. Midges attack in a swarm. On identifying a food source, to call the others to join, midges emit pheromones. And this is why the victims are usually attacked more than just once.
The remedies mentioned above may be effective for some while not helping much in other cases of midge bites. However, what seems to work in most cases is the chewing of garlic. To ward off these tiny marauders , one can also eat a lot of vitamin B rich food as midges apparently are not a fan of the scent of Vitamin B in the blood. So, what are you waiting for? Chomp off those bananas and take in all that Vitamin B.


Midge bites — how to recognise midges, treat bites and avoid both altogether

Depending on where you are in the world, if you’ve been bothered by biting insects this summer you may be breathing a sigh of relief as the cooler autumn months arrive. Because as we stow away the sun hats and deckchairs for another year, we can also say goodbye to some less enjoyable mainstays of summer like mosquitoes and other bothersome biters.

Image source: Daily Mail

If you want to protect yourself from annoying midges and nasty midge bites then studies show Mosi-guard Natural® is an effective midge repellent.

Not so, for the tiny biting midge however. Midge bites from these minute fliers, also known as “no-see-ums” due to their miniscule size, often thrive from September onwards. So, think twice before packing away that repellent along with the paddling pool…

“ The bane of BBQ cooks, hikers, fishermen, farmers, golfers, cyclists, tourists and equestrians alike, midges and midge bites can cause havoc for anyone who loves being outside or who works outdoors. ”

So how do you know if it’s midges that are plaguing you, and more importantly, how can you keep these annoying critters at bay and avoid midge bites?

Quick links

About midges

What are midges and what do they look like?

Image source: cheaptents.com

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Believe it or not there are actually more than 4,000 species of biting midges! Staggering eh?

The smallest of the flies which bite humans, midges can range in size from 1-3mm. Despite their tiny size, midge bites can be annoying and may even cause a reaction.

The adults are gray but may take on more of a red appearance if they have recently bitten a human or other warm-blooded animal and had a feed. Only the female midge bites, whilst male midges tend to feed off pollen and other plant materials.

Midges have two wings which are often very hairy and pigmented. When the midge is at rest, these wings will lie flat with one crossed over the other.

Which species of midge is more common in the UK?

The Ceratopogonidae midge. Image source. phorid.net

Midges are part of the Ceratopogonidae family and around 152 species exist in Britain.

The type of midge that will bite humans belong to the genus Culicoides which is prevalent the world over. It is thought around 50 species are found in the UK with 37 of them in Scotland — unfortunately, that’s a lot of potential midge bites.

Do midges fly alone?

Image source: woodlands.co.uk

Midges travel in packs or large swarms. Although small and near on impossible to spot on their own (a single midge is the size of a pin head) they can be easy to spot when they are flying in a swarm with their pals.

Where are you most likely to find midges?

Or more accurately, where can pesky midges find you? Generally, worldwide, beware of midge bites and midges in habitats that are marshy and wet. They also show up in mountainous areas, and areas with dense undergrowth and woodland are their other favourite habitat so beware here too.

Where exactly are midges found in the UK?

Image source: Metro.co.uk

Image source: ionalister.co.uk

The bane of the summer evening, midges feature throughout the UK. Midges are particularly fond of wet ground so take extra care to avoid midge bites near areas of standing water, such as lakes, reservoirs, marshes, tidal flats and estuaries.

“ To be able to reproduce, female midges need moist, wet areas for their eggs and larvae to develop properly so they actively seek out these conditions. They also need a blood meal to enable their eggs to develop properly in the first place. This is why only the female midge bites. ”

Known as the scourge of Scotland, the midge favours the climate there. Beware of midge bites in Scotland’s hilly, often damp conditions. Its dense woodland and natural areas of water lend themselves very well to the midge’s preferred habitat.

What is the lifecycle of the biting midge?

Image source: EDU

Biting midges evolve through a larval stage (depending on what food supply is available, this can last around 2 weeks a year), to a non-feeding pupal stage (which takes place over 2-3 days) before transforming into a winged adult. Adult midges usually live between 2-7 weeks.

What weather conditions do midges favour?

Image source: mirror.co.uk

Like their equally annoying pal the mosquito, the midge adores dawn and dusk conditions. Beware of bites when midges tend to be most active, in the still early morning and evening conditions. However also bear in mind that midges can remain active throughout the day even when it’s overcast and with a little wind.

Damp, cloudy summer days are like catnip to a midge so in midge hotspots, expect to see them in their throngs on days like this.

Are midges more active at certain times of the year?

Like many biting insects, midges tend to be much less active in the winter. They have also been known to appear from early spring and through late autumn, so midge bites can happen actually throughout a large chunk of the year in the UK.

What attracts midges to humans and causes midge bites?

Image source: must-see-scotland.com

Believe it or not midges can detect carbon dioxide in our breath from 200 metres away. This is why anyone undertaking physical activity such as outdoor pursuits, hillwalking or working outdoors are at risk of midge bites and fair game for midges if they are not protected.

As well as the boggy, wet ground and undergrowth they so love, midges are also smitten by dark clothing.

About midge bites

How to identify midge bites

Midges are so small that you often won’t see one biting you. You are more likely to feel the bite or a sharp, burning or stinging sensation.

Image source: jamesdelingpole.com

“ If you’ve been unlucky enough to have been a meal for a midge, you’ll find midge bites will often form as small lumps, which will be very itchy indeed. ”

If you look closely you may also see a small hole within the lump where the bite has punctured the skin. If you normally experience sensitivity to bites, or are prone to reactions, you may develop fluid-filled blisters or weals surrounding midge bites.

Do midges bite other warm-blooded animals too?

Image source: cotswoldlife.co.uk

Yes, the genus Culicoides feeds on the blood of warm-blooded animals so cattle, dogs and horses can also be affected by midge bites.

Can diseases be transmitted through midge bites?

There are species of the Culicoides species of midge which specifically inhabit tropical climates that are capable of spreading both human and animal parasites and diseases.

While biting midges are extremely annoying, the good news is that none are known to transmit diseases to humans in the UK or US.

They are capable however of carrying a variety of animal diseases. One of the most common of these in the UK is sweet itch in horses. This can prove to be a painful nuisance for horses to experience and is equally frustrating for their owners to treat.

Biting midges are also known to transmit Blue Tongue virus in livestock in the US but this does not infect humans.

How to avoid midge bites

Midge bites can be painful, itch intensely and in some instances swell up alarmingly. If you’re travelling to a midge hotspot, use a proven insect repellent, like Mosi-guard Natural and cover up at dawn and dusk. Protective gear, such as mesh covers for your face, can be very effective too, especially if you know you are heading into a midge magnet area such as the Scottish wetlands during midge season.

If you are doing any physically exerting activity outdoors such as hill walking, always wear repellent (applied according to the instructions) and re-apply if you are perspiring.

As midges love dark clothing, opt for lighter hues and long sleeves if you can.

A trusted midge repellent

Which insect repellents work best to deter midges and midge bites?

The Mosi-guard Natural® range which uses Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or ‘Citriodiol®’ as its active ingredient has been tested against various biting midges in both lab and field studies throughout the world.

“ Studies show Mosi-guard Natural® is an effective midge repellent with a range of complete protection times of up to 7 hours based upon application rates and species. ”

So with just a few simple steps, you can wave goodbye to midge madness and enjoy our great outdoors.


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