During the depth of winter it is easy to forget about bugs and how annoying they can be but as temperatures warm and the bugs reappear they can really bug you. I drove to northern Utah yesterday in search of birds to photograph and while I didn’t have many opportunities with the birds I had plenty of opportunities to photograph midges, swarm after swarm of midges.
There are two kinds of midges, biting and non-biting, the midges I photographed yesterday are the non-biting midges.
Just about the time I drove north past Willard Bay I noticed midges hitting my windshield and it seemed that nearly every where I drove I could see them but the thickest concentration of midges I saw yesterday was at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.
Because I was driving slow on the auto tour route to look for birds the midges clung to my windshield. The dark smudges on my windshield are from the midges hitting it. I tried to keep the windshield clean with windshield wiper fluid and my wipers but it didn’t matter.
And while I drove the auto tour route I didn’t turn the windshield wipers on because they would have just smeared the midges all over. Yuck.
As I drove slowly the midges swarmed outside my window, they seemed to be thickest right at the edge of the road. When I would stop the swarm would move slightly away from my Jeep so this photo was taken while I was driving in low gear and barely creeping along. That is a lot of midges right?
But not as many as this photo shows. I’ve been going to this refuge since 2008 and I have never seen as many midges as I saw yesterday, or at least I have never seen swarms as thick as they were yesterday.
This is a large crop of one of my midge images from yesterday. That is a lot of bugs!
This is what the front of my Jeep Patriot looks like after all the driving I did yesterday, some of the midges you see though are alive. When I stopped to take this photo the midges landed on it, the side facing the water (right side of frame) was covered in live midges too. If your windows are down they will also cover the interior.
(Word of advice for the midges inside your vehicle – don’t swat them or you will have bug guts all over the inside of your vehicle, just leave them be and once you hit the pavement and can travel fast open all the windows and the majority of them will blow out. Then when I get home I roll up all the windows, park in the sun and the rest of the midges get baked.)
It is supposed to be rainy this week, I think I will wait until the Jeep gets soaked which will pre-soak the dead midges and then go to the car wash to remove them. They will be easier to wash them off then.
The swarms of midges can mess up photos, see all those out of focus dark spots in the sky, water and mountains in this image? Those are midges. Right now if you want to do landscape photography where there are midges you might want to do it first thing in the morning before they start to swarm. Before the midges form bugnadoes.
With patience and post processing skills you can remove the out of focus midges in photos. I don’t like to do much when I process my images but there are times I rely on Photoshop to help me get rid of the midges in landscape photography.
I have complained about the midges in this post because they are messy and annoying but one thing that I feel is critical to mention is that these midges are an important food source for the birds that live and breed at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. They are also important for the birds that migrate through Utah and stop at the refuge to consume the midges to get fueled up for the rest of their journey. I’ve posted about how important midges are before in these posts:
I just thought I’d share my journey through the midge swarms yesterday so that in the future when I mention the swarms or call them bugnadoes my dear viewers will have a better idea of exactly what I am writing about. I am just very glad that these midges do NOT bite.
But be forewarned if you decide to head to Bear River MBR… the mosquitoes are out now too.
Life is good even when it bugs you.