Is it a mosquito or a midge
The difference between a potential disease carrier and a nuisance is explained

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Scott Oxarart
775.328.2414 or 775.276.1021

RENO, NV –  As temperatures rise and mosquito activity increases, it is important that people know what type of insect they are seeing before they call local vector personnel to request relief. “We are getting a lot of calls from people reporting extremely high mosquito activity” said Phil Ulibarri, spokesperson for the Washoe County Health District. “But just because it looks like a mosquito doesn't mean it is. While most people have had an experience with mosquitoes, not everyone knows the difference between mosquitoes and their harmless counterparts midges.”      

According to the Health District Vector Borne Disease Prevention Program, there are some noticeable differences between the two.  Midges don't have a biting needle (proboscis) and because of this they cannot transmit diseases. Mosquitoes do. Another difference is that midges fly in swarms that look like clouds. Mosquitoes don’t always fly in swarms because mosquitoes fly faster while midges fly more slowly, slower than an individual walks. “When people report being covered by a swarm of mosquitoes, they probably just walked or passed through a cloud of midges. That can be annoying during outdoor activities because they may land on you or fly into your mouth, eyes and ears,” said Ulibarri. 

Mosquito vs Midge

Midges are often mistaken for mosquitoes because of some other commonalities, too. Midges like most species of mosquitoes do not like direct sunlight; they prefer cool shady places such as front entry ways and covered back yard patios.  However, certain mosquitoes can be active in direct sun light.  Midges and mosquitoes are both attracted to lights in the evening which draws them to homes and businesses, so using lower wattage lights such as LED and/or yellow bug lights will greatly reduce the numbers of both insects around your home. 

Washoe County residents may see more midges and mosquitoes closer to homes due to the heavy precipitation and flooding we experienced this year. If you're not certain if you’re seeing mosquitoes or midges, please call the Washoe County Health District Vector Borne Diseases Program at 785-4599. Staff will be able to provide assistance in identification of these insects.


Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »