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Lakewood Ranch bugged out on midges

Dragonflies can scratch off 300 mosquitoes a day.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. August 31, 2016
  • East County
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For centuries, they’ve been an icon representing change and self realization. They’re mystical and beloved by many women, who adorn their necks with pendants carrying their form.

And yet, they are some of nature’s fiercest predators, with a 95% kill rate.

What are they?


They’re coming to a pond near you.

“They eat mosquitoes at the tune of 300 mosquitoes a day,” said Arthur Quinby, spokesman for pond maintenance contractor Dragonfly Pond Works. “They’re voracious eaters. If you have dragonflies in your pond or lake, it’s healthier.”

The company, hoping to do pond maintenance in Lakewood Ranch, has offered to install samplings of dragonflies in some of Lakewood Ranch’s ponds, likely in October, to promote overall pond health, as well as to help address growing populations of midge flies in at least three ponds. All they need is about 20 dragonfly larvae per acre of pond.

Midge flies are small non-biting insects that look like mosquitoes and are found in and around lakes and ponds. They thrive in water that is high in nutrients and bottom muck and low in oxygen.

Greenbrook Fields resident Sharon Niel and her neighbors hope the dragonflies will ward off midge fly populations that have been growing in their pond for the last four years.

“When it started the first year, I thought it was nothing,” she said. “The next year, it started earlier and lasted longer. There were more of them. This year was the earliest year yet. They came in April.”

When Niel heads to her backyard, it’s never without a hat or sunglasses. Hundreds of midge flies lift off out of the grass when she walks through her backyard to pull weeds in her garden bed. Her grandchildren no longer play there when they visit because the insects have become such a nuisance. At times, the swarms are so thick she can barely see the statues in her garden from her lanai just a few feet away.

“They go in your eyes, your ears and your nose,” she said. “If your are talking, they go in your mouth. It makes you feel itchy all over.”

Niel has been lobbying her Community Development District for relief on behalf of her family and her neighbors.

Paul Chetlain, director of operations for Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, said the department is working to address the midge fly problem in Greenbrook, and potentially other areas within Lakewood Ranch Phase 1 (Greenbrook, Summerfield/Riverwalk and the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club). A multi-part chemical treatment was applied to Niel’s pond over the summer, although Niel has not noticed a difference.

Across Lakewood Ranch, aeration devices have been installed to improve oxygen levels in ponds and improve overall water quality and pond health. Community Development District 4 supervisors, who oversee common areas in Greenbrook, specifically have approved the installation of an aeration device in Pond 21, behind Niel’s home, between the Rivers and Fields sections of Greenbrook.

“We expect to complete that project by the end of October 2016,” he said.


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