Updated: Nov 12
We South Floridians are well aware that lake flies are not the friendliest of flies to have around on our South Florida properties. You are not alone if a swarm of lake flies has taken over your SFL property and you're wanting some answers. In this article, you will discover what lake flies are, where they can be found, and how you can get rid of them.
What are Lake Flies?
Lake flies are several tiny, non-mosquito fly species. They are tiny, delicate flies with a single set of long, narrow wings and long, thin legs. Males frequently have feathered antennae to detect the high-pitched sounds made by the female's wings.
While lake flies are typically present in tiny, non-problematic numbers close to naturally occurring lakes and ponds, the concentration of nutrients within stormwater systems serves as a beacon to breeding midges, and they can proliferate in enormous numbers. They start to affect any communities at that point.
The Problem With Lake Flies
In many of our neighborhood lakes and ponds, which have high nutrient loads, murky water, an accumulation of organic muck, and low dissolved oxygen levels, lake fly larvae have evolved to thrive under challenging environmental conditions. The same water quality issues that make lake flies popular prevent fish and other aquatic insects from feeding on them.
This enables lake flies to breed in massive quantities – often exceeding 4,000 larvae per square meter – forming monocultures across the lake bottom. When there are too many lake fly larvae and they turn into adult flies, they can be very annoying and even dangerous to the health of people who live near bodies of water.
South Florida experiences lake fly swarms all year long, but they are most intense in the spring and fall when swarms of adults emerge in large numbers from the water's surface at night. They can make outdoor activities uncomfortable and are drawn to lights on homes, porches, and street lamps, where they gather in huge numbers, covering, discoloring, staining, and harming the outside surfaces of buildings, cars, and establishments.
A secondary occurrence is the local spider population's sharp expansion as a result of the lake flies' serving as a food supply. Residents see spider webs covered in decaying lake flies and smelling like rotten fish on their windows, porches, and eaves.
What Do Lake Flies Look Like?
Some adult lake flies have bodies that extend beyond their wings and the same dark brown hue as mosquito wings. These characteristics give them a mosquito-like appearance. The majority of biting lake flies have wings that are only as long as their bodies and have a stocky appearance. As the female feeds on blood, its body gets bigger and turns a reddish-brown color.
A small lake fly's body measures 1 to 3 mm in length or approximately the size of a pencil point. Large lake flies are less than 1/8 inch long. When they circle in unison as a swarm in the air, the male lake flies are most visible. Most likely, you have personally witnessed these lake fly swarms. Males might be around, but they don't bite.
What Attracts Lake Flies?
Flower nectar and other high-sugar fluids, such as plant sap, are the main sources of nutrition for lake flies.
Due to our carbon dioxide emissions, body heat, and distinctive fragrances, humans, their pets, and cattle are likewise drawn to lake flies. Lake flies seek out their prey once they become aware of these signs.
Are Lake Flies’ Bites Life-Threatening?
Some biting lake flies can infect livestock with diseases like the bluetongue virus and horses, deer, and other animals with the African horse sickness virus, but they are not known to infect humans.
When lake flies bite people, they itch and swell because of an allergic reaction, not because they are sick.
Tips for Getting Rid of Lake Flies in Your South Florida Home
There are many reasons why you need to get rid of or manage lake flies in your South Florida home They can damage painted or wooden surfaces and are annoying when they gather near docks, lakeshores, ponds, or waterfronts.
You can use the following techniques to get rid of lake flies from your South Florida property:
Apply insect repellent.
Although repellents can keep lake flies away from you, they do not kill them. You might be worried about chemical-filled repellents damaging your skin. However, the market's recent introduction of natural insect repellents made with naturally occurring ingredients like tea tree or citronella oil may help to dispel this idea.
The best natural technique to get rid of midges is to apply insect repellent to your body.
Use bright lights sparingly on your South Florida property
Since they rely on light to guide their flight or just because of the warmth the lights emit, lake flies are drawn to lights. Lake flies are hence strongly attracted to bright light. To keep lake flies away from your South Florida vacation home, it is preferable to use yellow light bulbs or dim lights, especially at the main door.
Place the bright lights that are at the doors in different locations or change the light bulbs' color to pink or orange. Turning off lights when not in use or using fewer lights outside your home is one of the most effective techniques to keep lake flies away from your house.
Reduce nutrient levels in water bodies around your South Florida property
Stormwater ponds in particular draw lake flies because their larvae can find plenty of weeds, algae, and nutrient-rich waters there. But there are ways to lower these safely and make sure the water flows instead of staying still and stagnant.
These consist of:
Water aeration systems to keep the water moving.
Planting on the shoreline and in the littoral zones to absorb nutrients.
Algae control to improve overall water quality.
Avoid water that is stuck or flowing slowly.
Lake flies have both aquatic and terrestrial stages in their life cycle, just like mosquitoes. The larvae and pupae of lake flies can be found in any stationary or slowly flowing body of water, including lakes, ponds, and water reservoirs. Lake flies can also be found in and around plants and other green things around the home.
Additionally, lake flies' growth and development are further aided by the nutrients in the soil. To keep water from pooling, don't water plants too much and always break up the soil.
Lake flies prefer mating areas with slow-moving water, such as drains. The developing stages can endure the slow water flow in the drain and are continuously fed the nutrients they need to grow. By removing things that block the flow of drain water, we can make the environment less favorable for them.
Reduce your fertilizer usage.
As we stated earlier, lake flies prefer to breed in nutrient-rich environments. Fertilizers can also supply nourishment to other garden creatures like millipedes and insects, in addition to helping healthy plants flourish. When too much fertilizer is applied, some of it runs off into the soil next to ponds or streams. This gives the water plenty of nutrients, which help midges grow.
Proper fertilizer use and nitrogen control should be used to limit the possible breeding grounds for lake flies. Always examine your plants and fertilize them following the instructions and rules. This encourages the growth of healthy plants in addition to assisting in midge population reduction.
Place a bottom diffused aeration system in place.
The oxidation of decomposing organic matter, a crucial food supply for filter-feeding lake fly larvae, is accelerated by aeration because it increases dissolved oxygen levels. If the bottom oxygen level goes up to more than 3–4 ppm, predator fish will be able to get to the larvae hiding in the deeper bottom water and sediments and eat them.
The lake's overall water quality, purity, and beauty are also improved by increasing oxygen levels, which also assist in minimizing phosphate, nitrogen, and algae growth.
Get professional assistance.
The suggested tips mentioned above help prevent lake flies from disrupting your daily activities. However, in certain surroundings or unpredictable circumstances, their presence is frequently unavoidable. It is strongly urged that to address and eradicate the underlying cause of lake flies, permanent measures are taken. You can ask our knowledgeable team for assistance in overcoming this bothersome bug.
How Can Safe Home Management's South Florida Home Watch Services Prevent Lake Flies Infestation?
Since most homes in South Florida are unattended vacation homes, the buildings are more prone to be infested by lake flies when they are unoccupied. These flies can cause severe damage to these properties' backyards.
Notably, South Florida home watch service providers, like Safe Home Management, are specially trained to visually inspect properties in search of obvious issues. The house inspection helps to know the overall condition of the SFL property. We search for leaks, mold, and pests (such as lake flies) that may be found in homes that have not been occupied, even for a short period.
Here at Safe Home Management, we add a level of security to vacant homes in South Florida by creating a presence on the property. We also prevent homes in South Florida from being infested by lake flies; thereby providing homeowners the peace of mind they deserve.
Unfortunately, lake flies coexist with humans in South Florida. Fortunately, if you have an infestation or any other issues with insects, you can call in the professionals. If you have a problem with pests, our skilled professionals can figure out what the problem is and make a treatment plan just for you.
You can use our home watch services to assist you with managing lake fly infestation on your property. So, if you're trying to reduce the number of lake flies around your house, pond, or neighborhood in South Florida, give us a call for a quote or to find out more about how our home watch services can help you get rid of lake flies.