World Cup vs. Bugs

World Cup vs. Bugs

It’s summer and as most South Florida residents and vacationers know, the outdoors is teeming with flying insects, including gnats, midges, flies, and mosquitos.  Soccer matches were not unscathed, swarms of bugs have teamed up for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia this summer. On Monday, June 18 at the Volgograd venue, small, non-biting insects scored large on the nuisance scale, during the first of four group games scheduled at the Volgograd Arena stadium. England’s and Tunisia’s teams were both plagued by vast numbers of small flying insects.

England’s captain reported bugs in his eyes, nose and mouth

Players could be seen swatting at insects on the pitch, as England pulled off a nail-biting, emotional roller coaster of a win over Tunisia. Instructed by the FA, players were advised “to apply high strength insect repellant liberally before the game,” according to the BBC. “There’s a lot more than we thought,” said England’s captain, Harry Kane, after his team’s 2-1 win. “We had a lot of bug spray on, before the game and at half-time,” Kane said. He went on to say, “I got some [flies] in the eye, nose and some in my mouth.” Conversely, Tunisia player, Nabil Maaloul commented that he “did not feel the midges,” as he “was focused on the team, on the game.”

Reporters also struggling with bugs

Not only did the multitude of impertinent intruders add a new challenge for players, reporters avidly fought against the onslaught of non-biting insects. In videos featured in Liz Roscher’s Yahoo Sports article, Roscher said, “It feels like that Associated Press reporter was mere seconds away from his face being completely covered by bugs.”

 However, in an inspired moment of journalistic fortitude, BBC Sport’s Natalie Pirks sprayed massive amounts of bug repellant around her head, soldiering on through her broadcast. They are on your face, stick to your lips, get inside your nostrils, your ears and your hair,” she said. “I’ve had to debug myself at bedtime as you find dead ones you’ve splatted in the strangest of places.” At some point the invasion of insects caused some reporters to call it a day and retreat indoors. A series of interviews planned to take place in front of the English team’s hotel was canceled for the time being.

 Commentator said bugs numbered in the billions

Also, the BBC quoted Radio 5 live commentator, John Murray who estimated that the bugs numbered in the billions. “At one point last night,” Murray said, “it felt like I had a hundred thousand in my hair.” Fans in the stands found themselves at a disadvantage as liquids, including bug repellent, weren’t allowed in the Volgograd Arena stadium.

Helicopters sprayed area over the weekend in anticipation of a possible infestation

Located on the southern banks of the Volga River, Volgograd officials were aware that the non-biting midges, chironomidae, causing all the ruckus, with a few mosquitos thrown in the mix may cause trouble as it’s mating season for these insects. Yay! Adding to the annual mating flight, Monday’s warm 80-degree temps may be also have assisted in bringing about midgeagedon. Spraying the area over the weekend allegedly reduced the number of insects but by Monday evening’s game, they were back.

Non-biting midges are not blood-feeders

Chironomidae, a large and diverse family of flies, with worldwide distribution, include over 20,000 species. Often confused with mosquitos, due to their narrow bodies and long legs, chironomidae are not blood-feeders, like mosquitos, hence they are commonly known as “non-biting midges.” Relatively small, measuring from 1 to 20 mm or .04 to .79 inches, if they feed at all, adults prefer nectar or smaller substances. Many freshwater ecosystems depend on midge larvae that are nearly all aquatic or subaquatic. Interestingly, unlike mosquitos, who need stagnant water in order to breed, non-biting midges can be found in a wide array of aquatic environments as diverse as brackish estuaries, pools, tree-holes, low oxygen lake sediments as well as in fast-flowing mountain streams. In Ireland and Scotland, non-biting midges are known as “blind mosquitos.”

The area around the Volgograd Arena consists of marshlands on the outskirts of the Volga River that flows through the city. These areas act as excellent breeding grounds for World Cup midges.

Some sources say that getting rid of the non-biting midges is almost impossible but that because midges are attracted to dark colors, wearing lighter colors when going outdoors during the midges’ mating season could help ward off these pesky pests.

 The good news is:

  • According to the BBC, few of the offending insects are actually mosquitos.
  • Going outside won’t result in getting angry, red itchy welts.
  • Midges only swarm during mating season and mating season doesn’t last long.
  • Regulations banning liquids were relaxed so supporters gathered at a fan zone to view the games via a giant movie screen could bring in insect repellent.

Back in South Florida, summer brings out the worst in mosquitos, midges, gnats, no-see-ums and other flying insects. At Hulett, we want you to enjoy your backyard this summer. Hosting an outdoor World Cup event soon? If you suspect mosquitos and other flying insects might ruin your party, contact Hulett to schedule a free pest inspection today! As one of the top 25 pest control companies in the nation, South Florida’s locally owned and operated family business, Hulett has been a leader in the pest control business for over 50 years. Learn more about our Hulett Healthy Home approach. We guarantee you’ll be satisfied with your Hulett Healthy Home! Just call Hulett!

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