Beth Whiteley a naturalist with the Cleveland Metroparks said it’s not rare to see midges in the late fall, but seeing this many this late hasn’t happened in several years.
“I don’t know if you guys recall the series when the poor pitcher was swarmed by these guys, so this does happen in the fall and that’s the last time I can remember it being in such a mass amount,” Whiteley said.
That game she’s referring to was Oct. 5, 2007, when the then-Indians played the Yankees. Yankees Reliever Joba Chamberlain was swarmed by midges midgame.
Whiteley even has a good explanation as to why they may have chosen him.
“They pick what they call a marker, so it’ll be like a high point, a tree, a steeple, a building. They might do even a person depending on where the person is standing,” Whiteley said.
The reason the bugs can be seen swarming above trees along the Shoreway so late this season is a combination of timing and lake temperature.
Midge eggs sit for 1 to 3 years underwater. When they’re ready, 60-70-degree water temperatures are the sweet spot for them to hatch.
Whiteley said there’s a misconception that the midges are a sign of a healthy lake, when in fact, this species is “pollution tolerant,” feeding on algae and bacteria.
“If there’s pollution that increases the amount of algae, there’s probably going to be more of them,” Whiteley said.
While you could spray for them, their lifespan is only five to seven days. They hatch, mate, lay eggs and die.
This also means, a late fall resurgence will have no impact on the number of midges we see come spring.
Thankfully, once the air lake temperatures drop, the bugs will stop hatching and the swarms will go away.
You can expect that to happen by Halloween when temperature highs are only forecast to reach the 40s, overnight lows will be near freezing and lake temperatures should drop below 60.
So if you’re trick or treating on Halloween, expect the crunch of dead midges beneath your feet…spooky!