After dry summmer, rain brings out huge swarm of midges

Milton’s hills make Dogfish Dash most difficult 5K in the Cape Region
October 14, 2022

Last week’s five-day-long storm did more than bring rain and localized flooding to the area, it also provided perfect conditions for an apocalyptic amount of gnats in Rehoboth Beach.

I was in town covering events Friday afternoon and an unavoidable army of small black bugs were flying around town. They were getting stuck in the hair on my arms and in my beard. I was in the Rehoboth Beach Museum and found a few crawling in the hair of my legs. It was a gross amount of bugs, but there were so many that I also thought it was interesting.

David Owens is an extension entomology specialist based at the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown. I spoke with him about this time last year related to an outbreak of lawn-eating armyworms. He was happy to shed some light onto why there were so many bugs in the air.

Owens said the bugs were most likely midges, and it takes roughly one month to go from laid egg to flying adult. In any given year, through the warm months, these bugs will go through multiple life cycles before going dormant for winter, he said.

However, insects are always fighting dehydration and they can lay dormant until the conditions are just right. That’s probably what happened in this case, he said, explaining there hadn’t been too much late-summer rain, and then all of a sudden everything was really wet, with a lot more places for eggs to be laid.

These are basically huge swarms of males and females breeding one last time, said Owens.

“The wet weather got the adults thinking there was more potential, so they kicked off one more generation before going dormant for the winter,” said Owens.

Dogfish Dash has to be toughest race course around

A couple of weeks ago, the 3.8-mile Dogfish Dash took place in downtown Milton. It featured a two-hill course that brought roughly 1,000 people past my front porch on Chestnut Street. I saw a lot of people struggling as they passed by, which I thought was odd because my house was only about halfway through the race. After some thought, I came to the conclusion the struggles were caused by having to run up the hill on Chestnut – my house is at the top. I was seeing folks just as they were taking those finally-on-the-way-down deep breaths.

I imagine some of the people struggling felt pretty good for the first mile of the race because the course starts by running downhill on Front Street. Then they made the 90-degree left onto Chestnut Street and by the time they reach my house, all those good vibes, fast legs and thoughts of beer had turned to swears, shuffling feet and a search for water.

For the record, this is not a commentary on folks struggling through a road race. This is strictly about the race course. I encourage all forms of physical activity in people of all ages. Their pain is evidence in my claim that the Dash course must be the toughest course in the area. That said, I did get a chuckle from thinking about those same runners having to go up the course’s second hill on Mulberry Street before finishing the race.

Joke of the Week

Reader Mike sent this joke to me. He wondered if it was ‘gourd’ enough. If a person sends me a joke that includes a season-related pun in the greeting, it’s going to make the cut. As always, send joke submissions to   

Q: Why should you never marry a pastry chef?

A: Because they will always dessert you.


  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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