Biting midges are exceptionally small flies that are a known nuisance to people, their pets, livestock, and other types of wildlife. Their habit of blood-sucking has raised concerns among professionals about the transmission of infectious agents and diseases.

CSIRO ScienceImage 11052 Biting midge on human skin

Biting midges are called by many names.

These include “sand flies”, “gnats”, “no-see-ums”, “punkies”, “five-Os”, “pinyon gnats”, and “moose flies” – the names used to refer to biting midges depends on the region.

Renowned for the irritating biting habits that they engage in, these pests are found in many different types of habitats. These include coastal areas, tidal flats, estuaries, mangrove swamps, and regions that are similar in nature.

The activities associated with biting midges are similar to that of the standard mosquito. They are known to bite – mostly – during the hours of dawn and dusk. If the weather includes wind, activities typically come to a halt. They find a host and dig in.

Atrichopogon (male) sp. on Oedemera virescens (green beetle)

Biting midges never veer too far away from their breeding regions. Both males and females feed on the fluids from vegetables and nectar; however, if a female biting midge is about to lay eggs, she will seek out blood.

In fact, it is the female biting midge that commonly attacks humans.

When this happens, exposed skin is at risk. The most common areas on a person that are impacted by the bites of the biting midge is the face, the scalp, as well as the hands. These insects will also seek out blood from various types of animals.

Types of Biting Midges

Culicoides female biting midge

Biting midges are part of the family Ceratopogonidae. This includes in excess of 4,000 unique species that span over 78 genera throughout the world.

In North America alone, there are over 600 species. Most of these species feed on animals and insects, not humans.

A total of four genera of the 36 actually seek out the blood of mammals. The three most troublesome genera of biting midges – in terms of humans, pets, and other animals are those that are identified as Forcipomyia, Culicoides, and Leptoconops.


If you have ever been bitten by a biting midge, you know it is a painful, annoying experience. As mentioned previously, most bites stem from the female that is about to lay eggs.
Indonesian sandfly bites on leg

There are several environmental conditions that could have an impact on whether or not the insect bites people.

These include the time of day, the temperature, wind activity, high levels of humidity, the seasons, the tide, and the moon phases. Biting midges are much more active in the warm months of the year. If tides are high or the phase of the moon is full, activity seems to increase.

Public Health Risk

Biting midges are more than annoying. These insects act as a type of vector when it comes to disease-based agents.

The insects that are present in North America may transmit the Blue Tongue virus. This detrimentally impacts livestock, but commonly does not impact people. However, people that are bitten by biting midges experience discomfort and may suffer from a reaction.

At first, a burning sensation is often experienced. Then, if a reaction occurs, it could be as minor as a welt that is red in color.

Severe reactions may include massive swelling and itching.

If one scratches the area where the biting midge bit them, sores may develop and a bacterial infection may occur. Additionally, the sores may heal slowly.

For those with compromised immune systems and certain medical conditions – such as diabetes – many complications may occur.

Biting Midge. Culicidae - Flickr - gailhampshire


Recognizing Biting Midges

The biting midge measures as small as 1 mm to 3 mm in length.

In most instances, they are gray in color; however, if they have recently consumed a blood meal, they may be a bit redder in color.

They have wings that are commonly covered with patterns that are dark. The mouths are very small. They include four small blades that have the ability to lacerate the skin of that which they bite.

They are so small that they are often seen as red dots rather than insects.

The larvae look like very small white worms. In some cases, people say they look like caterpillars. These are often unseen by the naked eye; instead, a microscope is required.

Treatment for Biting Midges

There are formulations of the natural-based insecticide known as “pyrethrum” that may aid in treating biting midge infestations.

This substance can be found at hardware stores, home improvement stores, and nurseries. Unfortunately, the residual capacity is very limited. This means that it must be continuously applied to keep control over populations. This is especially true during the summer months.

Additionally, there are many organic products that may help in controlling and eliminating biting midges. Again, the residual capacity is extremely limited.

The best treatment for biting midges is to enlist the assistance of a professional pest control company. Here at All Pest, we possess the pesticide that is designed to keep biting midges away from your home, your loved ones, and your pets.

Getting Rid of Biting Midges Once and For All

It is challenging to get rid of biting midges without professional assistance; however, there are a few steps that you may take to aid in the control and prevention of the insects. Discovering the breeding grounds of these insects is often difficult. Take the following measures to remove all possibilities:

  • You should plough or completely drain the soil on your property so that you are able to reduce the amount of moisture contained in that soil.
  • You should remove leaves, decaying vegetation, and other types of natural refuse throughout your lawn.
  • Clean out all drainage channels on your property.
  • The sun should be able to reach the soil on your land. In order to ensure this, trim trees, bushes, and other plants on a regular basis.
  • Screens should be placed on windows around the home.

If you have biting midges, we are here to help. Our team of pest control specialists can apply products in and around the home that will keep the pests from negatively impacting you, your loved ones, pets, and other animals.