UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension Service
458 Highway 98 North
Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578
Phone: (863) 763-6469
E- mail: email@example.com
Article - for release the week of
Dan Culbert - Extension Horticulture Agent
are Blind Mosquitos
A recent caller asked us a
question that really challenged our staff, and it could only come from a
person living in Okeechobee: “How
do you get rid of tiddlywinks?” I
had to consult some of more experienced Extension agents, and surprise – and
we were able to come close to a response.
first I asked the caller if he really meant “tiddley
winks”. For those English
teachers out there, tiddley winks could be either a children’s board game
played with poker chips or Tiddleywink, an obscure hamlet in
I did find a reference to a “chizzywink” - a fictitious creature in a children’s story a Tony Johnson. None of these seemed a suitable response from a county agent.
Extension Agent Pat
Miller suggested, “Maybe he does mean chizzywinks?” “Yes
- that’s what I mean” the caller replied.
And that continued to confuse me - until Pat explained that the caller
was probably referring to an insect common to interior
A review of the information found in UF Entomologist’s Phil Koehler’s bulletin on aquatic midges can provide some background on these water born nuisances. And if locals want a more lively approach, consider reserving a seat in Thursday’s upcoming workshop, Pond Appeal: St. Lucie Agent Ken Gioeli will be discussing Blind Mosquito management as part of the program.
Blind mosquitoes do not bite, suck blood, or carry disease. Because they can live in aquatic habitats that have less than pristine ponds and canals, they can be an indicator of poor water quality. Around here, when they emerge in large clouds of flying “chizzywinks”, these flies are a nuisance, except to fishermen seeking Blue Gills which consume these bugs as food.
Chizzywinks begin life as masses of eggs laid on the surface of ponds lakes and canals. The lava hatch and burrow into the muck at the bottom of the water, and feed on decaying organic matter. They are pink to deep red in color, and are consequently called blood-worms. In two to seven weeks they emerge in swarms at night. These flies do not feed during their adult existence, and will mate and die in 3 to 5 days.
Adult Chizzywinks, collected north of Vero Beach. Photo by Dan Culbert
Blind Mosquito Life Cycle (Clockwise from mid right: egg mass, larva, pupa, adults-male, left, female, right). Drawing from UF/IFAS Bulletin ENY-231
White masses of Aquatic midge eggs float on pond surfaces. Photo courtesy Ken Gioeli
There are actually two types
of aquatic midges: blind mosquitoes and predatory phantom midges.
They both look alike. The blind mosquito larva live in tubes at the
bottoms of ponds. Larva of the predatory phantom midges - the ones that
have been the biggest headache - float over the bottom of the pond preying.
As adults, they both behave the same.
As more homes are built near
water, and as water takes on nutrients from fertilizers, more concerns with
chizzywinks appear. Here in
Ken Gioeli has had several calls from the Port St.Lucie area asking for relief. He’s come up several management suggestions with assistance from UF Midge Specialist Dr. Arshad Ali that can help deal with Chizzywinks which can also be used in our area:
· By following UF fertilizer recommendations for Florida Yards, homeowners and landscape managers can reduce the amount of nutrient runoff into ponds and canals. These nutrients encourage aquatic midge breeding in ponds and canals.
· StrikeTM pellets are being used in stormwater ponds to provide a 30-day release of the active ingredient methoprene. This insect growth regulator (IGR) mimics natural insect biochemicals and prevents the development of larvae into adults. By stopping the reproductive cycle, mature insects die within 10 to 14 days. This product may be too expensive for use by individual homeowners.
· Light traps have been used to reduce the numbers of blind mosquitoes. They should be placed away from buildings where you don’t want these insects to visit. Likewise, reduce the use of night lighting where you don’t want blind mosquitoes.
· Some reduction of blind mosquitos may result from stocking ponds with bug-eating fish. Research on other forms of biological control methods may come up with some other critters that will eat these flies or their larva.
· Individual homeowners can get temporary relief by using approved foggers, aerosols or residual surface sprays.
Finally - be patient: most of these
management suggestions will take time to work.
Remember that they are fish food. Chizzywinks
will go away a few days after the height of the swarm, and will not be an
issue in cooler weather. So if
they really start to get to you, take that trip to
To find more about blind
mosquitos, readers can review Ken’s website, which I’ve added as a link on
our Okeechobee web page, http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu.
If you need additional information on blind mosquitos, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call us at 863-763-6469. Local
residents can stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee, and visit
our Okeechobee County Master Gardeners from
on Tuesday afternoons.
Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS / University of Florida. Millie Ferrer, Interim Dean Last update: 04/12/2010 . This page is maintained by Dan Culbert
"UF Researcher Tricking Pesky Insects
Gainesville: UF/IFAS News,
Gioeli, Ken. Aquatic Midge Management website. Fort Pierce: St. Lucie County Extension Service, August 2005. http://kgioeli.ifas.ufl.edu/aquaticmidges.htm
Panache: Tricks to take big bream on
fly." Palm Coast: Florida Sportsman Magazine,
2005. [How fish react to chizzywinks]. http://www.floridasportsman.com/flyfishing/F_0405_panster/
Koehler, P. G. Blind Mosquitoes (Aquatic Midges) ENY-231. Gainesville: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, April 2003 http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IG092
Johnson, Tony. The Chizzywink and the Alamagoozlum New York: Holiday House, 1998.