Our stay in Sanford was on a whole, amazing. As we shared in our last post, we loved the historic downtown, the marina, the friends we made and the entertainment options.
As soon as we extended our stay, we bought tickets to the last showing of The Bridges of Madison County playing at the Theater West End (wonderfully done).
We were really getting into our groove and had decided to winter in Sanford instead of returning to our RV – embracing the serendipity of where we found ourselves and tackling some major boat projects.
Heck, we could even see ourselves settling down here one day.
And then.. midges.
Billions and billions of midges.
Well, really to get the full effect, you should watch the video – I promise you, no amount of photos or puns I’ve been gathering for months can convey the experience:
What is an Aquatic Midge?
Midges are also known as Blind Mosquitos.
Their eggs are deposited into the mud of lakes and stagnant nutrient rich fresh water, and then they emerge from the water and swarm for a few days – mating, and repeating the process.
Thankfully, they are not actual mosquitos – they don’t bite. And they don’t carry diseases. Because if these were blood suckers, we’d have no blood left after this winter experience.
They are at their highest numbers from April to November, the warmer months. And usually just a couple swarms during that season.
While cities can spray for them, there’s really not much to be done but improving water quality to make it less hospitable. Bug zappers just can’t take on swarms of this size.
You can read more about these guys: University of Florida – Aquatic Midges
Our First Swarm
We were warned about blind mosquitos before heading south by our dockmaster in Jacksonville, but he followed up saying it was late enough in the season that we shouldn’t encounter them.
In mid-November we experienced our first swarm when we returned to our boat after dusk to a speckled hull and these flying pests bouncing off our ceiling inside.
Our dock mates assured us – they had never seen a swarm after October before. This must be an unusual late season swarm, and probably the last we’d see of them.
We embraced the novelty of the experience, took a few clips of video and posted some photos to Instagram.
Kiki actually kinda liked them, she says they taste like dead fish.
We learned from our friends how to midge-igate the problem by spraying the swarms with diluted Dawn dishwashing soap to knock them down. They loaned us sprayers to use.
If you just spray them with water, they swarm and then land on your neighbor’s boat – they don’t like that much.
The film of dish soap on your boat also discourages more midges from landing – so you want to keep it there as long as possible.
But not so long that the dead bodies start to decompose, as they’ll leave blue and black stains that then have to be bleached out.
So you follow up later in the day with a fresh water rinse.
And then repeat when the next swarm erupts.
Oh, and then the birds start a midge-buffet on your boat. Promptly getting diarrhea and shitting all over everything. And it’s not that nice white bird poop that washes away easily.
It’s black stained poop that leaves marks. So you’re cleaning that up too (a cleaning product called ‘Awesome’ found at the local Family Dollar for a $1 works wonders for dissolving it).
And then the spiders.
They love the midges too – and they leave their meal mark behind as well. And, then you have spider friends forever (we’re still picking them off our boat, and have invited a few to stay for bug prevention.)
Oh, and of course the midges can get inside your boat too. Especially if you forget to turn off your lights after dusk. We frequently would get home after a night out, and end up vacuuming the buggers off the ceiling (Kiki quickly got bored of them.)
Oh, and did I mention a swarm can last 4-6 days? So you’re repeating the process several times a day. It becomes a full time job.
And the marina’s water bill must be astronomical from everyone constantly washing their boats.
A Midgerable Winter
But November wasn’t just a late season swarm. It was the start of an unusual midgerable (thank you Julie of RVLove for that one) winter.
Our next swarm was over Christmas. We were so looking forward to our first holiday season at home on the boat.
And lots of them. This swarm was larger than the last, and it lingered for days. Most our dock mates were away for the holidays, so we were also midge-igating their boats too and had no one to commiserate with.
So we decided to share in the ‘fun’ with a Live YouTube broadcast.
And we couldn’t leave. Our turbos were off the boat and our engines taken apart for the rebuild. Well, I guess we could have towed the boat out of the lake with our dinghy. It was mighty tempting.
Another swarm happened in early January, smaller however.
And then.. no midges for nearly a month – we all breathed a big sigh of relief.
Another pretty major swarm happened in early February, with a couple small outbursts throughout the month.
And then another major swarm early March as we were preparing to leave (convincing us NOT to be tempted to extend any longer).
Official midge season would soon be starting – and no way, no how were we going to be there for it.
Reports from our friends indicate the midges have only gotten worse since we left. Thank you Bryan and Mariann for sharing these photos from last week’s major swarm:
Despite the midges, we absolutely loved our 4-month Sanford stop. Sanford really was really that amazing for us.
But we don’t miss the midges. Not one bit.
We haven’t seen a single once since we steamed off Lake Monroe.