Midges

Midges are any small fly and there are several species. They are present on all continents except Antarctica. Because they bite, they can be irritating.

Personal reaction to midge bites can range from a slight redness that disappears in half an hour or less to severe inflammation. If you react rapidly and the swellings are small, and you're healthy, you may not need treatment. The swelling and itching will soon go away.

If you are still reacting hours or days after a bite, see your doctor.

Midge facts

  • The adults are about 1 to 2 millimetres long, much smaller than the related mosquito.
  • In overcast, humid weather they are known to bite all day and night.
  • They are known as pool feeders because they use their proboscis (nose) like a saw to create a tiny hole into which the blood can flow. Saliva is injected into the pool to help the flow of blood. It is the saliva that causes the allergic reaction and itching.
  • They are not known to transmit diseases between humans in Australia.
  • Only the female bites – she needs a blood meal to fertilise her eggs.
  • The life cycle from egg to adult is probably no less than 8 weeks.
  • Estuarine midges do not breed in the grass, trees or in soil or sand in the garden; they only harbour in these areas.
  • Biting midge numbers increase around the time of the full and new moons.

What we are doing

Our Vector & Biosecurity Services Unit conducts regular surveillance programs of biting midge populations throughout canal systems and waterways on the Gold Coast. When biting midges are in a susceptible stage, we conduct control programs, using a boat fitted with a boom spray to treat the inter-tidal beaches.

Additionally, we spray the natural insecticide pyrethrum in areas of the city to reduce the biting midge numbers to an acceptable level. Our policy is to conduct pyrethrum misting programs based upon residents' requests. These are timed to coincide with peak midge emergence events.

What you can do

Anything you can do to reduce humidity, increase light, and air movement will make your house and garden less attractive to midges. You can:

  • avoid gardening or watering in the afternoon and early morning
  • increase air movement in your house with electric fans to create areas unsuitable for midges, as they are less active in wind speeds over 6 to 8 kilometres per hour
  • spray residual (surface) insecticide on your flyscreens to help deter them from entering your home
  • burn mosquito coils inside if it is safe to do so
  • apply topical insect repellents to your skin or an equal part mixture of baby oil, Dettol and eucalyptus oil
  • wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers made of closely woven materials – a hat and gloves might also help when gardening.

Midges hide underneath the leaves of the plants and shrubs in your garden. You can apply insecticide on the leaves, following these instructions:

  • Apply natural insecticides/pyrethrum on a regular (weekly) basis during problem periods, as Pyrethrum has little residual capacity.
  • Chemical insecticides containing permethrin have a longer-lasting effect. Follow instructions on the container.

For more information, download the Biting midges fact sheet(PDF, 1MB)

Contact us

For advice on the management of biting midge or if you wish to notify us of an existing biting midge problem, contact us on 1300 GOLD COAST (1300 465 326) or 07 5629 5629.