Mayflies set to bid adieu to Lahoris


With temperatures rising and humidity levels falling, Lahoris will take a sigh of relief to be rid of mayflies, also known as Canadian soldiers, which have been plaguing citizens since the end of the monsoons. Although load shedding has decreased, citizens were still forced to sit in darkness, as these small flies gather by the dozen around lights. Entomologists say midges, or mayflies swarm to areas with moderate temperatures and a moist environment, and the outbreak of these insects remains for 10 to 15 days, following which time they automatically fade out.
These mosquito-like non-biting flying insects have raided the city, making life difficult for citizens as they swarm everywhere light was present. Be it driving bikes, eating outdoors or studying under a lamp; one could not escape from them. According to entomologists, midges are usually found in grassy fields because they cannot survive the heat. They breed in moist areas and the temperature in the city is perfect for their breeding. Midges are considered non-pathogenic because no case of disease has been reported yet, insect experts said. Midges are of different species; some biting and others non-biting, and they appear under different environmental conditions, and on different timings of the day.
Open-air restaurants were most affected by mayflies, as they swarmed about the lights by night, and the morning dawned to find all surfaces covered by the many corpses of these Canadian soldiers. Most places installed “Bug Zappers” on their premises to save their customers from the annoyance caused by midges. Haroon Iqbal, a banker, said midges had made it almost impossible for him to ride his bike at without glasses. Huge grassy plots in universities’ hostels were ideal for mayflies and rendered students unable to study: Javaria Mudassar, a boarding student at Punjab University, said the clouds of midges had made life in the hostel unbearable, and students were left with no option other than turning their lights off.
An entomologist, Hassan Ali, told Pakistan Today that minimising the use of lights outside would help reduce their presence. He suggested that to maximise the effectiveness of Bug Zappers, they should be keep as far away as possible, adding that yellow was the least attractive color for these insects, so switching to yellow lights might be helpful in keeping them away at night. He said temperature, humidity, and light conditions were the three factors which determined the presence of midges in a locale. Hassan said adult midges had short life-spans; their function being merely to swarm, mate, and lay their eggs. These insects could be distinguished from other similar insects by their way of sitting, as the rest of the insects of this family stood on their legs, while midges lay with their entire body in contact with the surface, he said.
In Pakistan, midges thrive in grassy fields, and their numbers dwindle during summers as they can not bear the heat. He added that a major reason for increased midge breeding in the city was the ineptness of the city government’s Anti-Malaria Department, which was neglecting its responsibility of spraying insecticides in the city.