CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Mayfly or midge? You hear these terms all the time living in northern Ohio, especially along the lakeshore.
So, what's the difference?
Midges hatched along the Lake Erie shore Sunday night, are smaller than mayflies and usually emerge when the surface water temperature of Lake Erie is near 60 degrees. Midges live about 5 - 10 days, are harmless and will show up again in the Fall when the lake water temperature again falls to near 60. We usually see the small insects emerge in late May or early June.
A mayfly is also called a Canadian soldier. It's the same thing. There's no difference. Mayflies are a bit larger than midges and have distinct large wings, as well as a pronounced tail. Mayflies also seem to remain stationary more so than midges that tend to scatter. Mayflies are also harmless and have one of the shortest lifespans of any animal, only averaging a lifespan of around a day. Mayflies emerge when the water temperature is a bit warmer than midges, closer to 70 degrees, so they'll appear later in the year, usually mid to late June.
While they can be a nuisance, both midges and mayflies are harmless, provide food for fish and birds, and are a sign of a healthy Lake Erie.