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Midge flies have returned but experts say they never left

We all thought midge flies were gone, but they’re back. Actually, mosquito control says, they never really left.

Midge flies do not pose a threat to humans and will not bite or sting you. However, they can be very annoying especially flying around your front door or congregating on your car.

It turns out that midge flies exist year-round, but certain conditions can lead to an explosion in population, like the one we’re seeing right now.

When you see this many, it’s a sign of poor water quality.

“Never have we had an explosion of midges like we’ve had in the last couple of weeks,” Neil Wilkinson said.

He lives near Billy Creek in Fort Myers and is no stranger to the environment around him.

“I used to work as an instructor for Florida Gulf Coast University in a position that was affiliated and sponsored by Lee County Mosquito Control District,” Wilkinson said.

After wiping down every railing and ceiling, the flies have returned.

“They are a sign, I would say, of the poor water quality that we know is a problem here in Billy’s Creek and it’s been an ongoing issue,” he said.

“This is another indicator that we really need to do something collectively,” said Wilkinson.

He, along with Eric Jackson of Lee County Mosquito Control District, shares stories of encounters and agrees it does all come down to water quality.

“If you have a heavy nutrient load into a water body, it creates a lot of organic matter that eventually settles down at the bottom, which is a perfect habitat for these insects to grow,” Jackson said.

Nutrients in this body of water could stem from fertilizer or runoff, among other sources.

“What we’re now finding out about bacteria levels in the water, which are attributed to leaky pipes most likely. In fact, ‘most likely’ we say carefully, I can say ‘unequivocally.’ I’m sure that is the main problem with the water quality here,” said Wilkinson.

Lee County Mosquito Control says it’s difficult to predict when the flies will slow down.

If water quality and excess nutrients improve, the flies should begin to go away. To improve the water quality in general, Wilkinson recommends taking care of yards without excess nutrients and planting mangroves if you live along the water.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Drew Hill
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