CLEVELAND - You see them everywhere. On walls, on cars, on windows and doors. Yes, the midges are back...covering everything in sight. Your house, your car, your shrubs, everything is covered with thousands and thousands of these harmless, non-biting insects. In spring and again in fall, they ascend into the sky just before sunset, forming thick, living clouds. This dance in the sky is the last chapter in their lifecycle before they lay eggs in the water and die.
Each spring and fall, Northern Ohio's lakeshore communities are invaded by small, harmless, mosquito-like insects that science calls chironomus plumorsus. We call them midges, fish flies, muffleheads, or muckleheads. They spend their larval stage in Lake Erie and them hatch out into adults. They live for only five to ten days, but the swarms can be startling to those unprepared.
The small, 1/8 to 1/2" long insects are often erroneously called Canadian Soldiers. They spawn in the lake when Lake Erie warms to around 60 degrees and then again in the fall when the lake cools through the 60s.
Don't worry. They don't bite. They have no stinger or teeth. Midges are beneficial as they provide food for a variety of freshwater fish and other aquatic creatures. Its a sign of a healthy Lake Erie.
And, of course, who can forget the famous Midge invasion during the 2007 Cleveland Indians vs. New York Yankee playoff series. Midges, as baseball fans recall, rose from Lake Erie during that October evening and descended upon Yankees Pitcher Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the eighth inning. The pitcher was distracted into throwing two wild pitches. Cleveland scored the tying run without a hit. The Yankees went on to lose the game and eventually the series.
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