Midge Management Ohio, supported by the Delaware County Board of Commissioners through the Ohio University Voinovich School, aims to find innovative and environmentally-friendly solutions to control pestiferous midge flies at and around wastewater treatment plants in Delaware County, Ohio. The research should reveal the type of visual cues that midge flies use to locate egg-laying resources, the type of signals midges rely on to identify potential mates, and new earth-friendly substances, and combinations of substances, that can be used to kill pest midges. By understanding the mechanisms of midge fly communication and resource-foraging, we hope to develop acquired knowledge for future application in wastewater treatment plants; ultimately, helping to put clean water back into the environment!
THE FLY PEST
Midge flies are tiny, delicate flies that somewhat resemble mosquitos, and about 20,000 midge species have been described worldwide. Midges spend the majority of their life feeding on decaying aquatic material (like human waste) as a small larva, AKA a “bloodworm”, for approximately 2 weeks. Adults have very short life spans, of 1-2 days, and their sole purpose is to reproduce. For this, they gather in huge swarms of millions of flies in a single night. While in nature these swarms are decimated by hungry bats and birds, these swarms thrive in the predator-free water reclamation plant indoor facilities. In these conditions, midge flies can become a significant nuisance to employees which may breathe them in or get them in their eyes or mouths while working around the treatment plant grounds. The nuisance may eventually escalate to respiratory problems including allergies, asthma and rhinitis. Additionally, midges are known to be vectors for disease causing pathogens, which could exacerbate the problem.
WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANTS
In severe infestations, the aquatic larvae impact the amount of wastewater being processed and the quality of the treated water, they damage pumps and moving parts, and clog filters. Current control methods include insecticides that prevents larvae from developing into adult flies, or chlorine that kills larvae and breaks down before entering the environment. Unfortunately, these methods are expensive due to the sheer quantity required to suppress the midge populations, and often the relief only lasts a short time before the midges reestablish themselves. Longer lasting methods that are also environmentally friendly and cost-effective are direly needed for managing midges at water reclamation plants.
THE PROJECT TEAM
- Dr. Bekka S. Brodie
- Dr. Kelly Johnson
- Mitch Duffner, 2018 & 2019 Undergraduate Research Student
- Glenn Pauley, 2019 Undergraduate Research Student
- Wesley Walsh, 2021 Undergraduate Research Student
Duffner, M.Q.* (presenter), A. Pasternak*, K. Johnson, and B.S. Brodie. Flash-mobbing and polarized pickiness: exploring novel visual cues for the control of nuisance non-biting midges. Entomological Society of America: Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology (MUVE) Undergraduate Research Symposium. St. Louis, MI, 17-10 November 2019
Brodie, B.S. OHIO researchers called upon to solve midge fly infestation in ohio waste water treatment plants. The Ohio University Forum. August 26, 2018. https://www.ohio-forum.com/2018/08/ohio-researchers-called-upon-to-solve-midge-fly-infestation-in-ohio-waste-water-treatment-plants/ (Re-posted in Phys.org here.)
This project is funded through the Delaware County municipality. Delaware county is located in the state of Ohio and is included is included in the Columbus, Ohio Metropolitan Area. Majority of our field work is conducted in this area: Alum Creek Water Reclamation Facility, Olentangy Environmental Control, and Lower Scotia Water Reclamation Facility.
Materials are provided in-kind from Tumaini (CRT) Controlled Release Technologies. Tumaini are industry experts in the development, manufacturing and distribution of mosquito control solutions for commercial / professional and consumer applications.