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Think Chicago’s Recent Midge Swarms Are Wild? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet | Chicago News


A midge swarm on Lake Erie. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)A midge swarm on Lake Erie. (Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Swarms of gnat-sized midges have been reported alongside Chicago’s lakefront in latest days.

It’s mating time for the tiny bugs, which hatch within the water each spring and stay for lower than two weeks. A WTTW producer captured hordes of the bugs swirling into formations above Wilmette and Evanston over the weekend, the plumes resembling smoke.


Video: A swarm of midges is captured in Evanston on March 30, 2022. (Jen Cotto / WTTW Information)

The swarms consist nearly totally of males, which makes it simpler for them to draw the women’ consideration. 

Whereas midges have been uncommonly quite a few in Chicago this 12 months, different cities alongside the Nice Lakes, together with Toronto, are accustomed to the annual crowds.  


“Maintain my beer,” interjects Iceland, the place Lake Myvatn interprets as Midge Lake. Midges are present in such enormous numbers there, researchers report that in excessive emergence years the bugs’ useless carcasses can contribute 55 metric tons of dry biomass to the soil.

Watch this modern-day Viking sail straight into the attention of a Lake Myvatn midge hurricane.

Regardless of their mosquito-ish look, midges, additionally recognized by the nicknames mucklehead or mufflehead, don’t chew. And whereas people may get grossed out inhaling a mouthful of them throughout a lakefront jog or bike experience, midges are the right meal for all of the birds migrating by the town.

However midges are simply one of many water-loving bugs that hatch within the Nice Lakes area each spring. They’re usually confused with mayflies, that are considerably bigger.

If you wish to discuss swarms, mayflies present up on radar. Certainly, a examine of mayflies rising up over Lake Erie counted almost 90 billion of them. In a single evening. Fish and different freshwater wildlife will gorge on the buffet.

Right here’s what it appears, and feels like, to be in the midst of a mayfly swarm.

These grownup mayflies stay to mate — missing mouths and digestive methods, they don’t even eat — and die inside days.   

Although it’s been many years since Chicago’s witnessed an explosion of mayflies, up till the late Nineteen Thirties, useless mayflies have been recognized to pile up a number of inches deep on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, in accordance with the College of Illinois Extension.

However loads of cities, together with alongside the higher Mississippi and lakeside communities in Ohio, nonetheless take care of annual mayfly swarms and subsequent die-offs, often bringing in bulldozers to shovel up the stays. Professional tip from entomologists: Dab a bit Vicks VapoRub below the nostril to masks the scent of decomposition.

Talking of stench, let’s not neglect the June beetle grub infestation of 2021 that destroyed the grounds of Welles Park in Lincoln Sq. (and to a lesser extent close by Winnemac Park).

The grubs, the product of grownup June beetles mating in early summer season, surfaced within the tens of 1000’s. Numerous numbers of them baked to dying on the pavement, to putrefying impact.   

Piles of decaying beetle grubs at Lincoln Square's Welles Park. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)Piles of decaying beetle grubs at Lincoln Sq.’s Welles Park. (Patty Wetli / WTTW Information)

From one 12 months to the subsequent, it’s unimaginable to foretell whether or not circumstances will lend themselves to a growth or bust when it comes to insect swarms or random infestations. However broods of periodic cicadas will be relied on to emerge like clockwork.

Chicago dodged 2021’s brood, however the countdown is on for 2024, when a brood of 17-year cicadas is ready to floor throughout all of northern Illinois. 

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]






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