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The Midges of Seminole County (Time to Leave Sanford)

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.

We loved Theater West End – we saw lots of shows here.

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.

Aquatic Midges – this became a common look for Y-Not.

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.

Our daily dose of dish soap.

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.

Midges and bird poop.. oh, how fun.

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:

It’s insanity.

Look, ma.. no midges!

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.

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16 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. OK, I have been in Florida a few times and have missed these. Where are they found, and where are you headed to avoid them? North? South? Inland?

  2. The midges were very high maintenance ..grin. Admire your ability to tolerate the everyday soap spray and rinse routine. Loved watching Kiki go after them. Good job, Kiki.

  3. Ewwww, not my idea of a fun place to stay. Thanks for the warning. I’m staying away from Sanford.

  4. Right about this time of year, I am wondering why I live in Michigan. The winter has been long, the skies have been gray, and there really hasn’t been a warm, sunny spring yet. But after seeing your pictures of all the midges, cold and gray seems quite appealing! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Midges are no fun from the need for all the cleaning. Be thankful you did not have the biting no see ums. If those are around you will have to be soaked in DEET 24 hours a day. The area from Bradenton to Crystal river and up into Cedar Key seem to be the breeding grounds for no see ums.

    Have a great continuing adventure.

  6. I live in the area. The big lights at the Marina help to draw them over. I felt your pain! OMG, they are horrible!! We really didn’t have a Winter this year. Come back next year…

  7. MIdges sound awful. We get fish flies in June; but they only last a few weeks. And they are very easy to spray off your boat. They don’t really stink all that much; but they really crunch as you walk through the carcasses. Looking forward to seeing you move north…..

  8. GREAT detailed story! Convincing in words and pictures…your love for Sandford was so special…you brave fiercely those midges and all the side effects. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Whoa, Sanford itself had to be *really* good for you guys to put up with those infestations. That would have driven me crazy! I wonder if that Awesome product works on bug remains on RVs…

  10. Amazing story. Thank you for sharing in so much exquisite detail! I have a feeling we will all have “revenge of the insects” stories soon. Glad you were able to flee ( no pun intended)

  11. Ever seen the movie The Birds?……BTW…you need to head north and visit Padanaram Harbor in Southeastern Massachusetts. Just voted best harbor in the USA. We keep a boat there and live nearby. Jet in touch with us if you ever visit.
    We are midge free….

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