Zeekoevlei issue – Miggies, flying terrorists of the vlei?

07 Oct 2010 Posted by in Environment | 9 comments

I have had a spate of recent “complaints / comments” on this topic and suggest you add comments here to flesh this debate out and give us a better picture of the issue ” us being FOZR and the ZCA.

I have had both positive and negative comment, suggestions and thoughts on the issue,  see below and add yours please. We can do a lot to help the situation ourselves!

Some comment to date:

“I’ve studied the recent midges (miggies) invasion.  My close-up photographs of these pests were used to try and get an unsympathetic Council to eradicate the menace”

“what is in councils plans to combat the miggies in our area? Many disgruntled residents want to sell and move, which will eventually downgrade our area and house values.”

“Just an afterthought about the news of  gangs raping the vlei of fish……we ratepaying / taxpaying residents now know that we depend on the carp in the vlei to keep the miggies in check… is policing done in the area to stop these gangs?……..and now knowing that because there are fewer fish in the vlei…are there restrictions in place ….to control fishing ….what is being done to rid us of these miggies….it is getting intolerable”

“X & X got the pest guys in and sprayed all the spiders, idiots! Dont they understand the miggie vs spider debate, funny enough they are the biggest complainers about the miggies in the whole area.”

“pls keep me informed as I am “driving” towards a session on “love for our vlei” to deal with “gutter” toads, common Bengals and midgets. It needs to happen soon, as increasingly I find polarisation between greens and not so greenies. Eg this weekend I trotted around the neighbourhood. Long overdue! I discovered that even now, midges are terrible and prohibit biking or running. I felt a bit like the Hamas as I don my dark glasses, my nose kerchief and put my head down to ward off invaders. Also, people are spraying insect repellent into the air as they walk the dogs leaving others to breathe in the poison. Neither experience was particularly pleasant. My dream is to have free, safe and caring movement! So far I am not scoring! Maybe you and I should sit together with boots (or stinky socks) up on the table and discuss “guidance” before I arrange any presentation?”

“I’ll happily sit with stinky socks and boots on the table … but I may simply irritate you, as I believe that, of all of the problems, the midgies really do come with the territory – it may be more useful (e.g. re the midgies) to explain why the insecticides won’t really work (they are breeding swarms, not feeding) and perhaps if anything it is more useful to wear dark colours etc – they are attracted to light colours.  Also – we should note that the period of the plagues is relatively short – it is not a year long issue. Any water body SHOULD have flying insects – unless completely dead.  We are just lucky we don’t have biting midges!”

“good news coz increased midges may be as a result of cleaner water quality and shoreline – we will keep trying to find solutions (natural) and will keep researching – we will encourage other students to follow up on it.”

“…midges: besides the many other reasons we have them….here are three or so to add to the pot…we are not protecting our wildlife in zeekoevlei. take care of the frogs and toads who eat these little pests…we have an endangered leopard toad that is being decimated by our carless driving, lets be diligent. Also, stop using pesticides. we need our spiders to eat them. We need our bats. Is the endemic and non endemic wildlife, biodiversity and nature surrounds not one of the major reasons we live in and love zeekoevlei? We each need to take responsibility for our home.”

“Re the Midge problem as reported I your recent article
‘Dr. Liz Day and student Helashini Kalawan have commenced research into the Zeekoevlei midge problem. We will report back when anything newsworthy is found…’
I note they are trying to find a cure for the midge problem, in the UK we are having the same discussions as we were having a fantastic summer until this week, now it’s gone back to more like autumn with really strong winds and peeing down…….Anyway, one remedy that keeps on getting repeated and is supposed to work really well is spraying Listerine (mouth wash) around decking, seating areas and wet areas, people were sceptical to start with but the results appear to be amazing, that might be worth a suggestion?”

There seem to be an increase in the little insects flying around night and
day.  Do you have any advice on how to control them indoors:”

I also got phone calls: ” turn lights off before opening doors, use masks and goggles to exercise etc….

And had a meeting – some info given was: “We are seeing a new type of midge, they are shorter in length. The swallows are flying at a different height because they don’t like to eat this type. The new midge doesn’t need the vlei to breed – they lay their eggs in the grass/lawn. Its a result of changing environment.”

And finally a curse from the Toad People: “May the miggies of a 1000 summers infest your home this summer, with no leopard toads to eat them” – seems they may have a point!

People please add constructive comment…

If it’s to be, then it’s up to me!

  1. James10-07-10


    Could someone please shed some light on the following:

    1. Is there a way to control and prevent midges/miggies from invading your home?

    2. i have a swimming pool- any advice as to how to keep these creatures from floating in their billions on the surface? I am spending over 30 minutes a day currently removing them!!

    Will there be swarms like this for the whole summer? I am pretty new to the area.



  2. Joshua Gericke10-07-10

    Hi all vlei residents,

    Yes, the miggies are back. Their numbers have exceeded the point of discomfort. I would therefore like to pass on an update and some comment from nature conservation.

    1) Is it a problem?

    For someone who has to live with the miggies every day, yes, they are a large and resounding problem.

    From an ecological perspective however, the population desities are not unusual. I have experienced denser populations of miggies in many places while persuing my trout fishing passion. Most of these water bodies are in far better condition than Zeekoevlei has been in. They include several water bodies in the western and eastern cape, kwazulu natal, lesotho, and two of the Great Lakes in Canada and the USA.

    I suppose the point is that we don’t know what the miggie populations were like two hundred years ago when Zeekoevlei was pristine. Our only memory and records are from a time when the vlei was in a worse state than it is now. So the fact that the miggie population is increasing MAY therefore be a sign that we are tending toward a BETTER overall ecological condition. Or it may not be.

    That said, the discomfort that they bring to residents means that we will need to find a natural and non-damaging way to control their population.

    2) What is the cause?

    Ecological systems are very complex. It is very unlikely that we will find one specific cause of the increased miggie population. That said, contributing factors come in two possible forms. Either something is getting worse, thereby causing an ecological imbalance, or something is getting better, thereby solving an imbalance that has been keeping populations artificially low.

    Some possible contributing factors are as follows:

    > Water quality has been steadily improving over the past few seasons and may have led to more successful reproduction of aquatic insects including miggies.

    > Sediments have changed in the vlei. Most of the sludge is gone. This may have produced more habitat for midge larvae.

    > The carp population has declined drastically in the past two years. The loss of the main chironomid (midge) predator could also contribute to increase in midge population.

    > There may be other imbalances we know nothing about.

    3) What is being done?

    An intern (in conjunction with several scientists) is conducting research on which species of miggie are present, and therefore what can be done to control them.

    Patrols of Zeekeovlei have increased in an effort to curb netting of carp.

    Water and sediment quality have improved as a direct result of the efforts of nature conservation. Reversing this is not a viable option.

    4) What can be done?

    Unfortunately the root cause of all ecological imbalances can be traced to the actions of large populations of modern human beings. This root cause can unfortunately never be remedied.

    Possible solutions could include introduction of further predators or control of food sources or a similar intervention. The exact nature of the intervention will be determined once all species are identified and investigated.

    Until then, keep lights off at night when possible, particularly when doors are open. Wear dark clothing and use insect repellent such as khaki-bos spray on your body or in your house.


    Joshua Gericke

  3. Gamiem11-03-10

    Hi People.
    I moved into the area about 2 months now. I am in Pelican Way. Yes, I had my fair share of miggies in my eyes, probably ate some. I am an Architectural Technologist and I must say, NO MORE LATE NIGHT DRAWINGS. lol. They drop down on my board and fly around my PC as if I am outside. lol.These little pest comes into the house even through the smallest holes. I designed my house with sliding doors and and yes, sliding doors has gabs to the top and the bottom of the doors. I cant close it then I cant open the doors again. Its a real joke for us. We love the area so much as our property is on the vlei. I was told to change my outside lights and going “BLUE” I think it works as I find very little miggies around the outside lights now. Thx for the tip on “White clothing”.
    I must say the following: The amount of pollution seen on the vlei is a problem. I think the major 2 crooks that deisturbs the Ecological imbalance is (1) Fishing -(2) Dumping. Of course thats what I pick up only being here x2 months. I occassionally have to clean the edge of my property “Butting” the Vlei picking up dirt like, clothing, plastic, paper etc. Infact whiles building the Vlei was drained and I saw tyres, builders rubble, plastic and paint drums. No wonder we have such a mess.
    Laughing time: As a Moslem many of our wifes wear the common “VEIL” where the face is half-covered. My wife wears the typical head-gear only. Now when she leaves the house she is forced to put one on “The Veil”. In fact, my sons all cover their faces running towards the cars. Sometimes they slip and fall trying to manage the school bags and keep the faces covered. Many times when they come in at night I purposely take my time to open the door. I can see the anger in their eyes. To make it worse, i SWITCH on the lights.

  4. Fagrie12-14-10

    Hi, I would like to know if their is an effective product to keep the spiders outside. I do understand that they are required to help control the midges problem and therefore i would leave the ones outside. However, my wife is currently expecting our first child, God sparing and I really want to rid my house of them before the baby comes. I would also really appreciate if someone has pictures to share of the common spiders in zeekoevlei and if any of then are dangerous.

    Thanks, much appreciated

  5. Shamiel12-29-10

    To control spiders we use a poison called fendona. You mix it with water and spray all aaround the house, corners of windows, gutters etc.

    • Les01-14-18

      Have been bitten somehow on a few occasions and it seems it has now given welts and very itchy… Skin if scrached just comes off that bite area what is this!

  6. James01-02-11

    The northern shore of Zeekoevlei and the Bottom Road Sanctuary has just started a new website. Visit us at All comments are appreciated. There is also a link via the link section of the homepage

    James George

  7. Les01-14-18

    Has anyone knowledge of spiders invading your property apart from being after miggies that have invaded. The spiders leave long strands and big spider webs that you walk into constantly each morning after removing them with broomstick theevening before, Annoyed Les

    • Dalton Gibbs01-15-18

      Les; are these perhaps Golden Orb -web spiders? they are relatively large spiders which spins webs between bushes and structures. the web is a characteristic golden colour.

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