Water water everywhere and clouds of biting pests

5 Oct, 2017

Water water everywhere and clouds of biting pests

When will the midge season end? I can’t be the only one plagues by these pesky critters – so tiny they get everywhere and so annoying they drive the ponies crazy.

I’m not even sure what the critters are – I always refer to them as midges, but they depending on the season sometimes they are midges and sometime tiny black flies. They hang around on foliage, waiting for the breeze to drop before plaguing us, but even as the leaves fall around me there doesn’t seem to be any let up. I don’t suppose the miserable weather has help our situation either – there are puddles everywhere and slimy mud across every field.

Spring evening 2017

I decided to try and identify these critters this morning, but not knowing what to call them was a definite disadvantage! Instead I found a helpful article on Parkside Vet’s website – discussing sweet itch, another challenge for the horse owner with a susceptible animal.   Here’s the link to their article: http://www.parksidevets.com/conditions-diseases/sweet-itch

Parkside Vets point the finger very strongly at the tiny black biting insects. Here’s what they have to say and it looks like there won’t be any respite this month 🙁

In the UK several species (of the 1,000 or so that exist) of the Culicoides midge and, to a lesser extent, the larger, hump-backed Simulium Equinum, a member of the blackfly family, are responsible. Each has a preferred feeding site; Culicoides tend to be body feeders and the Simulium ear feeders.

Culicoides adults mainly rest among herbage and are most active in twilight, calm conditions. Breeding sites are commonly in wet soil or moist, decaying vegetation. They are tiny, with a wing length less than 2 mm and able to fly only a short distance (100 metres or so).

Male Culicoides are nectar feeders, but soon after hatching the females mate and require a blood meal to mature their eggs. They do not fly in strong wind, heavy rain or bright, clear sunshine. They dislike hot, dry conditions. The grey light at dusk and dawn suits them well, and they are at their most active at these times. However, as they are poor fliers, if there is too strong a wind, or rain during early morning they will simply wait until later to feed. Likewise they may feed at any time during humid days with cloud cover.

Culicoides are on the wing and breeding from as early as late March until the end of October, depending on geographical location. There is only a short breeding season each year in the north of Scotland, while in the south of England larvae will hatch throughout the spring, summer and autumn, depending on weather conditions. Seasonal variations in the weather can have an impact – recent winters have been milder and damper allowing breeding to start earlier. Summers that are alternately sunny and rainy cause an increase in midge breeding habitats and therefore an increase in the numbers of midges that are around to bite. Under these conditions most horses will show symptoms of Sweet Itch to some degree. Culicoides numbers are the critical factor.

Copied content is from Parkside Vets: http://www.parksidevets.com/conditions-diseases/sweet-itch

LHH-Gemma-Rogers

Communicator Organiser Facilitator Helper