Mitter (Ceratopogonidae) are small stinging insects that resemble very small mosquitoes or flies. They sting to suck blood, which can be very annoying for both humans and animals.

In Danish, mitts are also called grumpy pans or sockswhile in Swedish they are called knot - a term that also includes cattle midge.

In Denmark, moths are largely only a problem during the summer months. However, in warm countries they can be a problem all year round.

When you are attacked by midges, you usually get a lot of bites because they often appear in very large numbers. It's also characteristic that they appear very suddenly, where you might not see a single midge one day and the next day encounter thousands.


Mitter plugs

Although moths are difficult to spot, you can easily feel when they sting. It's only female mites that sting. Like all other blood-sucking insects, female moths do this to get enough food to develop eggs.

Mites tend to bite on areas with thin, uncovered skin. The bites therefore often occur on the face (e.g. on the forehead, hairline or around the eyes) or around the wrists and ankles.

The exact reaction to a mite bite can vary from person to person, but often there is a burning sensation followed by intense itching and redness. These symptoms can last for more than a week.

Mitter's bites are small and don't usually swell like mosquito bites

Mites often sting in thin skin

The symptoms in the puncture site are caused by some protein substances that the mite injects into the skin at the site of the puncture (in a similar way to mosquito bitesUnlike mosquito bites, midge bites generally do not swell. However, in some cases, the bites can cause severe swelling and, in rare cases, worse symptoms such as edema (fluid retention in the tissue), nausea, fever or even fainting.

If you are attacked multiple times, you can develop allergic reactions to the stings, which cause the more rare symptoms such as swelling, edema, nausea, etc. These reactions can occur in humans as well as animals.

The allergic reactions occur because the body develops antigens against the protein substance injected by the midges when they sting.

Moth swarms can be extremely large

Mite swarms can be very large

In animals, the blood-sucking species of mites can also transmit diseases in the form of viruses, protozoa and nematodes. Mites are generally considered to be a major problem for livestock such as cattle, horses, etc. and can also be a problem for some pets.



Avoid mid-stabbing

Avoiding mites stings is about 3 things:

  • at use mosquito repellent
  • at staying indoors in the evening hours
  • possibly that fight midges indoors

Of all the methods available to avoid midge stings, the use of mosquito repellent the most effective. We recommend the mosquito repellents below to avoid midge bites:

We recommend these mosquito repellents to avoid mosquito bites


When using mosquito repellents against midges, you should keep in mind that they:

  • must be applied carefully to be effective against mites
  • last longer if used on clothing rather than skin

In addition, you should also follow this advice:

  • Time of dayLike mosquitoes, midges are especially active just before sunset and just after sunrise. Staying indoors during these times significantly reduces the risk of midge bites.
  • Weather conditionsIn Denmark, the worst infestations always happen on evenings when the weather is warm, humid and windless. Stay indoors on these evenings to avoid getting stung.

You can also use mosquito nets to avoid midge bites, but be aware that most midge species can penetrate normal mosquito nets (because midges only measure 1-2 mm). Some places sell special mosquito nets that are fine-meshed enough to keep the midges out.


Fighting the midges

Moths are more difficult to control than mosquitoes because they live in mud and damp soil, which is harder to remove than stagnant water, where most mosquitoes breed. Many mosquitoes can also be controlled with poison, which is not as effective against midges.

The best you can 

  • Indoors: Indoor moth control should be done with electric mosquito traps, such as the ones shown below. In addition, a fan can also help because, like mosquitoes - don't like wind. You can also use insect sprays in some cases, but be careful as many sprays are toxic to humans, animals and the environment.

We recommend these mosquito traps for indoor moth control


Treatment of the plugs

The discomfort of midge bites can be treated with the same remedies that help with mosquito bites. We recommend the resources below:

These remedies are recommended for treating mitt stings


If you are very bothered by the stings, you can also buy antihistamine creams at the pharmacy (talk to your doctor about this).


Mitter on horses

When midges attack horses, they often target areas with thin skin (just like humans and other animals). This is why midge stings are often seen around the base of the horse's tail. However, the bites can also occur on many other areas of the horse, including the back and head. 

If a horse is repeatedly attacked, it can develop an allergy to midge stings. This results in more severe sting symptoms such as severe itching (where the horse rubs against objects) and subsequent fluid-filled blisters and scabs. These symptoms are also known as summer rash in horses.

When a horse exhibits severe symptoms after a mite attack, a veterinarian should always be contacted for a diagnosis and proper wound care.


Where do midges live?

Moths usually live close to their larvae - and the larvae always live in moist environments such as under bark, in rotten wood, holes in trees, compost, manure, peat moss, damp soil, mud or water edges.

If you live near water or damp areas such as lakes, streams, bogs, marshes, swamps, etc. there is an increased risk of midge infestation. This also applies in areas where there is contaminated organic wastewater. You can always check the development of the moth population in your local area at mosquito


Life cycle

Mites have 4 stages in their life cycle:

Egg stage: In some species of moths, the female moth needs blood to develop eggs, whereas in others it is nectar. Some can also lay the first batch of eggs without blood intake, although they need blood for the next batch. The number of eggs produced depends on the species and the amount of blood intake (the more blood, the more eggs). Most species lay between 25 and 110 eggs per blood intake.

Larval stageMedium larvae need water, air and food, but are not strictly aquatic or terrestrial. They need moisture to develop. The larvae typically inhabit swampy areas in mud and decaying plant material, but worldwide their habitats are diverse. Their food is small organisms. The larval stage can be divided into four sub-stageswhich lasts from 2 weeks to 1 year. The total duration depends on the species of the midge larva, the ambient temperatures and the geographical area in which the larva lives.

Puppet stageThe pupal stage lasts approximately 2-3 days. During this stage, the caterpillar pupates and stops feeding completely. When the

Adult stageAdult female and male moths feed on nectar, but as mentioned, some females need blood to develop eggs. The adult moths can survive for 2-7 weeks in captivity (i.e. in a lab), but only a few weeks in the wild.


Center species

Mitter belongs to the family Ceratopogonidaewhich is part of the two-winged (Diptera). Ceratopogonidae consists of several genera, each containing a number of mittee species. There are about 40 species of mites in Denmark and more than 4,000 species on a global scale.

Some species have colorful patterns on their wings, while others simply have clear or plain wings. In Denmark, all moths are 1-2 long, while abroad they can grow up to 4 mm in length.

Female mites in most genera suck blood from a host animal. There are three genera in which the moth species suck blood from vertebrates: CulicoidesForcipomyia and Leptoconops. The genus Culicoides contains over 1000 species of mites that are found all over the world. This genus also contains some of the most troublesome species of mites. 

In the genera Atrichopogon and Forcipomyia there are species of mites that live as parasitic ectoparasites on larger insects. The mites in the genus Dasyhelea feed exclusively on nectar, while in other genera the moths live as predators that eat smaller insects.

By the way, midges are closely related to cattle midges (Simuliidae), dancing mosquitoes (Chironomidae) and source mosquitoes (Thaumaleidae).