Mimico, New Toronto and Long Branch: About These Bugs...

Mimico, New Toronto and Long Branch: About These Bugs...This is my first spring living by Lake Ontario. Today during my mid-day bike ride, I must have consumed a pound of bug flesh before finishing the ride with my shirt pulled over my nose and mouth. There are swarms and swarms of these bugs along the bike trails parallel to the lake.

How long does this last?


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markosaar

Ugh they're effing disgusting. I had to brush piles of them off before entering the office. I hate them so much. I keep meaning to buy something to protect my mouth, I just can't stand the sensation of them bouncing off my lips.

They basically last through to September, but it always seems worse at the beginning of spring, with another surge somewhere in July-August. I was surprised they were already out this morning with it being so cold.

April 24, 2014 @ 3:34 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

It's like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. When I ride through the swarms, I hear them smacking against my helmet.

And yes, when I'm done my ride, there are dozens of them stuck on my pants and shirt.

April 24, 2014 @ 3:50 PM

GUNTer

ive lived at royal York/lakeshore for about 12 years now - twice a year we get those buggers. disgusting. they get in your nose, ears, eyes. they swarm in hoardes! bleh
they usually last two weeks or so and then bam they are gone.

April 24, 2014 @ 9:51 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@GUNTer

Two weeks, eh? I can handle that....

I biked two days ago and had no problem. Today I was literally choking on them. I'm still picking them out of my hair.

April 24, 2014 @ 10:01 PM

Anonymous

Any one remember the big swarm of little green bugs a few years back that took over the city?

April 24, 2014 @ 10:28 PM

James Edgar

I used to commute from lakeshore and ogden in Mississauga to dufferin and king on my bike . I did that most of the year for two years in 94/95 and I cannot remember running into bugs like that riding through long branch. Is this a new thing ?

April 25, 2014 @ 8:35 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@James Edgar

I've only noticed it the past two days, but I'm told it's an annual thing for a couple of weeks.

I'm riding with a balaclava today so I don't consume another 200 of these buggers!

April 25, 2014 @ 9:28 AM

Douglas

I am only a few blocks away from the lake in Ajax. Those bugs are incredibly irritating. Does anyone know what they are? I think they exist only as part of the food chain. They hide in the grass. Mowing the lawn in May and from mid-September is not a pleasant experience. Fortunately, starlings seem to love those bugs. When a flock of them land in my back yard, I say "Eat! Eat!". Cycling and blading are not as pleasant when those bugs are around. I suppose you can get surgical masks to wear. You can't do any painting or staining, either. Some of them are small enough to squeeze in the voids of screens. Barbecue dinners are often followed by me vacuuming the ceiling in the evening. Go ahead and laugh, but the alternative is having them all dead on the floor, counter tops, table, etc. in the morning. Bring on the hot weather, so those bugs go back into dormancy.

April 25, 2014 @ 11:20 AM

Scott

They are called midges. Here is a link to an article in the St Catherines Standard that describes them.
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2009/05/12/swarms-of-tiny-flies-bug-residents

May 1, 2014 @ 6:20 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Even a short walk on my street right now results in swarms of midges ruining our time. I'm surprised at how bad it is, and hopeful they're gone in another week.

May 1, 2014 @ 8:11 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Swarms of tiny flies bug residents

The black-winged creatures descend every spring about this time in massive swarms worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

But unlike the feathery invaders in the thriller director's Birds, these puny flyers pose no threat to humans - aside from inadvertently getting stuck in their open eyes and mouths.

Midges, tiny flies that breed near waterways, have once again swirled into Niagara in tornado-shaped clouds.

The harmless bugs are particularly thick in residential neighbourhoods near the lakeshore in Port Dalhousie.

"Every year they come. I've been here for 30 years and I've never seen it this bad," Victor Cassisi said Tuesday, sitting out front of the Belair Drive home he shares with his wife, Karin.

As Cassisi spoke Tuesday, hundreds of midges clung to the eaves and soffits of the couple's house and hundreds more hovered close to their well-kept gardens.

"If you go near a bush, they swarm you," Cassisi said.

Midges are members of the chironomidae family and spend most of their lives near water.

Tiny worm-like midge larvae burrow into the mud at the bottom of waterways, where they grow until they are almost ready to earn their wings.

As they mature, they move to the surface and emerge as winged adults.

Those funnel-shaped columns of bugs that can sometimes be seen drifting above fields or lawns are actually thousands of male and female midges reproducing.

"They form these huge, huge clouds of what are essentially mating aggregation areas.... They're having a mating frenzy," said Hannah Fraser, who leads the horticultural crop entomology program for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Vineland.

After mating, the females drop back down to lakes and waterways to lay eggs, ensuring more swarms of progeny the next spring.

While some people may be bugged by big swarms of midges in their midst, they disappear relatively quickly because the life cycle of adults lasts only a few weeks.

"It's the huge numbers of them that put people off. It's a bit of an entomophobia thing," said Cynthia Scott-Dupree, president of the Entomological Society of Ontario and a faculty member of Guelph University's Department of Environmental Biology.

British Columbia resident Doris Miller was taken aback by a thick moving wall of midges over the weekend during a visit at her daughter's Port Dalhousie home.

The swarm hung above a cedar hedge in a field on Courtleigh Street long enough for one resident to snap several photos of them, she said.

"It just looked like a fog descending. It's quite a phenomena," she said Tuesday.

But while they may be a short-term nuisance, Fraser and Scott-Dupree said midges form a vital link in the food chain for a variety of fish and aquatic creatures.

"They're actually a really positive presence rather than detrimental," Scott-Dupree said.

"The presence of them is a positive in a sense that it's indicating the environment's in good health."

May 1, 2014 @ 9:44 PM


Anonymous

My kitchen was full of them the other night!!
Make sure your screens are tight!!

May 2, 2014 @ 1:06 PM

Lisa

Surely we can appreciate these tiny bugs as part of our ecosystem and stop complaining about them. Every person I've come into contact with today has complained about these absolutely harmless critters. I ride a bike too- I wear glasses and keep my mouth closed.
When it was -27 outside a couple of months ago, all I heard was how miserable everyone was. Finally! It's Spring! We can enjoy being outside again! Stop complaining and enjoy the outdoors around the midges.

May 2, 2014 @ 6:32 PM

Anonymous

They seem 100x worse this year, or is that my imagination? Anything we can do to at least keep them away from the door so they don't swarm into the house? Anything i can spray?

May 3, 2014 @ 5:45 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I spoke to my neighbour yesterday. He's lived in this New Toronto neighbourhood south of Lake Shore for 44 years.

He says this is the worst he can remember. He's never seen so many of these bugs.

May 3, 2014 @ 5:46 PM

Dan

I've lived around lake shore and islington for 6-7 years and this year is the worst I remember for these things. So very annoying.

May 3, 2014 @ 6:05 PM

Bruce

I wonder if the ban on pesticides is part of the reason they are so bad this year? They'll be done in another week or two so no big deal. Their large numbers are a good sign as far as ecosystem health goes. The birds and bats will be feasting this spring😊

May 4, 2014 @ 5:35 PM

Toronto faces invasion of midges

So tiny they aren't even visible — the little insects that have invaded Toronto this week are called midges.

They don't bite, but look a lot like mosquitoes. They hang out around water and are attracted to light. They'll often end up mushed on windshields, smeared on clothing or in people's mouths, noses and eyes.

"It's just extra protein as far as I'm concerned," says Sarah Baird, who ends up ingesting the insects as she rollerblades along the lakeshore.

They're called midges, chironomids or non-biting midges. Informally, they are called lake flies in parts of Ontario. They're a member of the fly family.

Ontario Science Centre researcher David Sugarman says they are harmless. "They look like tiny mosquitoes, but they can't bite," he says.

Since they're usually found near water, that means midges are not far when Torontonians are biking, running or simply near Lake Ontario.

"We rode through black clouds of those things, glasses on, mouth closed, nose closed," says Natalya Kuziak as she rode past the lake.

"The clouds you see are actually a mating swarm," says Sugarman. "So if you get them in your eyes or mouth, perhaps you don't want to think about this too much."

The midges nest in water and are an important source of food for some fish. When they hatch they're attracted to light, which is why so many fly towards the condominiums on the lakeshore.

There seem to be more now because last year summer was wetter than usual.

"These are the adults emerging from last year's crop," says Sugarman.

The midges don't stay long. They will only hang out here for a few days. But if Toronto experiences a warm, wet summer, we can expect their return in a few weeks.

May 5, 2014 @ 10:04 PM

markosaar

I don't even have the words for it, they were the worst I've ever encountered this morning. Just prior to my office I hit a cloud that was a good 50 metres thick. I couldn't hold my breath through the whole thing.

Oddly I barely hit any on the way home.

May 5, 2014 @ 11:08 PM

sandra

Somehow they're inside my house too. Dead piles near the windows. We don't open windows and only one garage door to get in and out of the house. Do you think they crawl in like ants through teeny tiny openings? I somehow wouldn't think so.. .but the swarms outside are sooo huge, who knows. My poor little girls are freaked out about them. The swarms are soo big and think!

May 6, 2014 @ 9:45 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Let the record show, the midges are gone.

They started really petering out over the weekend.

May 14, 2014 @ 8:48 AM

markosaar

Friday was the most frustrating because the light rain felt exactly like midges landing on me ... and half the time it was still midges.

May 14, 2014 @ 9:54 AM

Allison

They're not gone - we live on the Waterfront and left our sliding doors open for a bit in the cool evening. Condo is officially full of midges.

May 26, 2014 @ 9:43 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Allison

They're sort of gone... in that I can bike along the waterfront now and not eat a few dozen of them.

But I do still have midges in the backyard. So a variety of midges remains, no doubt.

May 26, 2014 @ 9:50 PM

R.M

Hi
I have this annoying swarms of tiny black flies with large wings inside and outside my home now for approx. 5 weeks. They get in my hair and make it impossible to sleep at night. They are everywhere. Can anyone tell me what I can do to get rid of them?
Thanks

October 19, 2014 @ 2:23 PM

Broni

@ R.M

They'll just go away on their own.

October 20, 2014 @ 9:19 AM

Helen

I have lived in Port Credit for 20 years and don't recall these bugs until the last few years. I can't even bbq in the spring because they swarm the backyard and look like black pepper when I check my food. The lake had a nasty smell a few years ago and when people complained, the city did something to clean up the green slime on it. I believe that this has somehow contributed to messing up the ecological system thus adding to the infestation of these midges. Personally I would prefer the smell of the lake to these insects.

May 9, 2015 @ 4:17 PM

Sandra Wray

These little pests are annoying when going for my daily walk... they are all over my balgony and find if u burn the mosqiuto coils they are lessoned ...also ake apple cider vineger and dish soap mixture in a dish away from your doos and windows it will draw them to that ....still not a cure but helps ....

April 24, 2016 @ 2:06 PM

Mariapia

Living in portcredit for the first time. Annoying swarms of these bugs... Will they go away. Recommendations how to rid my balcony of them it is covered. My fiancé smokes so he uses the balcony but I tell him to bang the door and screen door to clear it up before going out

April 29, 2016 @ 7:11 PM

Ken

Try riding your bike on the lakeshore trail... Today I set out to bike along the lake and these flies were literally everywhere. It felt as if there were more flies than air. My trip didn't last very long. I recommend bringing goggles if you plan on biking along the lake.

April 23, 2017 @ 7:42 PM

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