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Friday, June 15, 2018


     These harmless, but annoying, boogers are also known as midges, lake flies, sand flies, muffleheads, Canadian soldiers or American soldiers. Many species superficially resemble mosquitoes, but they lack the wing scales and elongated mouth parts. They don't bite and are harmless. 
     In their adult stage, they have no mouth and they are only alive for about 24-48 hours. Larval stages can be found in almost any aquatic or semiaquatic habitat, including tree holes, vegetation, soil and in sewage and artificial containers. In this neck of the woods they are found around Lake Erie, beginning in early June. 
     While a pest to humans, they are a primary food source for walleye, perch and bass and on shore birds eat them. 
     They have about a two-year life span, most of which they spend in the sediment at the bottom of Lake Erie. The larvae swim ashore, shed their outer layer and sprout wings and a long tail and that's when the fun begins. They are annoying. They can damage paint, brick, and other surfaces with their droppings. When large numbers of adults die, they can build up into malodorous piles, sometimes a couple of inches thick and they crunch when you walk on them. They can provoke allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. 
     Swarms can be so big that they show up on radar as seen on this screenshot of radar near Toledo, Ohio.
 Muckleheads swarming over Cleveland, Ohio.
Cleveland weatherman Andre Bernier and muckleheads.

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