Chironomids

The British checklist of Diptera (True Flies) records 7224 species from Britain (Dipterists Digest, July 2021). The order Diptera contains 109 families including the Chironomidae (Non-biting Midges). Some estimates suggest that over 10000 species may occur globally of which 630 species are currently known from Britain.

Adult chironomids are generally 1 to 10 mm in length. They have slender legs, narrow wings, and plumose [bottle brush shaped] antennae in the males. They are commonly mistaken for adult mosquitoes but lack the lengthy proboscis and do not feed on blood. The adult insect is very short-lived living only for several days to no more than a few weeks. As with mosquitoes, most chironomid larvae are aquatic or semiaquatic. They are often the most abundant benthic organisms and are found in many habitats including rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, potable water plants, and within the sewage treatment process.

In addition to being wrongly identified as adult mosquitoes, chironomids can pose medical and economic problems. Residents or workers in localities where large, synchronous emergences occur can develop allergies to the larval haemoglobin that is transferred from the juvenile to adult stage and becomes airborne as the bodies of the adults decay. Large emergences arising from polluted bodies of water and filter beds within the water purification industry are common and may cause local frustration to local residents. Larvae that occur in water-storage and water-distribution systems have been recorded passing through the filtration system and into homes.

Professional surveillance and control measures are therefore essential to ensure due diligence in managing such populations and the heartache it can cause local communities. Bioguard have extensive experience of professional chironomid control and provide a comprehensive service including site assessments, entomological audits and detailed control programmes.