Only the midge bites are done by breaking a person’s skin and injecting saliva that prevents blood from clotting in the body. The midges then consume enough protein from the blood to help the development of their eggs. The bite from a midge has complex behaviours and risks to the one being bitten, but there are everyday insurances to help deal with these tiny terrors.
Interesting facts about the Biting Midge
There are more than 200 types of midges known to bite found in Australia. Midges follow a holometabolous kind of life cycle; the four parts of the cycle are as follows.
- Starting as an egg
- Going into larva
- Then to a pupa
- Then a mature adult
Depending on its species, the adult midge’s lifespan is anywhere between a few days to several months. A bite from an adult midge can grow roughly about 0.5mm to 4mm long and is about the size of a pinhead. Though the bites are small, midges are often in a swarm and will all bite at separate times, making them persistent pests. Coastal climates are where midges thrive in places such as lagoons, estuaries and mangrove swamps around Australia. They typically make homes in damp soil, decaying leaf material, muddy and vegetated substrates or tidal flats. The moisture in these environments makes for the perfect area and hatching ground for midge eggs. The temperature also plays a part in when a midge is most likely to bite. They are most active in humid weather and have temperatures between 27c-32c, and they tend to avoid windier weather. Midges don’t often go far from where they lay their eggs, and as such, midge bites happen most often near these predisposed areas. It’s important to study about the biology of biting midges to be aware about the public health risk associated with the same.
How dangerous are midge bites to humans?
Varieties of Midge can serve as a carrier of deadly diseases to cattle. Among these illnesses are African horse sickness, bluetongue disease and epizootic haemorrhagic disease. However, there are no documented cases that state that a midge bite acts as a vector of disease-causing pathogens into humans.
A bite can cause acute discomfort and irritation, and if the bite site is exposed to bacteria, it can become infected. Bites from insects are also able to trigger an allergic reaction and will need first aid treatment for Anaphylactic shock. In case of inaction or anaphylaxis, remembering sound first-aid practices and having enough foresight can prevent an extensive number of bites, such as spraying yourself and the area with insect killer and repellent.
Treating and preventing midge bites
If you suffer from a bite from a midge, tend to it immediately to avoid complications from immerging. Basic First Aid for midge bites can be done with these steps:
- Start by applying a cold compress, such as with an ice pack or wet cloth, in order to soothe the burning feeling in the bitten area
- Then take an antihistamine to relieve swelling and itching. Before going into an area that could contain midges or other similar insects, you should stock up on these types of medications in your first aid kit to make them readily available to you.
- Try to resist the urge to scratch the affected area. The less you touch, the better, but if the blister, welt or infected wound persists for more than a few days, you should seek additional medical attention. You may be prescribed antibiotics or antiseptic cream to manage the infection.
- If you have any symptoms that may indicate the onset of an allergic reaction, call Triple Zero (000), don’t delay the call and put your anaphylaxis plan into action. As anaphylactic shock can be fatal when left untreated.
Preventing midge bites is better than treating the bite after the fact. Right now, there is no chemical registered anywhere in Australia that can keep the midge population at bay without harming the ecological sites or other native animals and species.
First Aid Course Experts (FACE) recommend taking these precautions for midge bites:
- Avoid outdoor areas at dusk and dawn, as midges are known to bite most frequently during these times of the day.
- Try not to water your plants around sunset, as midges are known to be under the cool and humid shade of your trees or pot plants.
- Wear protective clothing like long-sleeve shirts with collars, trousers/long pants, and closed shoes with thick socks when going out in the early morning or late evenings.
- Put on insect repellent that has 15% to 20% of diethyltoluamide (DEET), and spray or apply it on sensitive areas such as the neck, ankles and the scalp. This will keep midges, mosquitoes, ticks and other insects from biting.
- Have good air circulation indoors with things like ceiling fans or a pedestal fan to create a strong breeze as midges will stay away.
- Look to local news about any discovered laying or breeding sites where any midge outbreak may arise. If you do find yourself with a midge-related disturbance or infestation, call your local government or pest control providers in your local area.
Learn about first aid treatment for insect bites
Bites and stings from midges, like most other Australian insects and arachnids, are unpleasant, but bites can also induce anaphylaxis, which is much more dangerous.
Most bites and stings are both treatable and preventable, and you can learn to manage these types of bites and how to manage anaphylaxis if it is to occur.