24 Apr 2017

Christchurch residents living in midge 'nightmare'

9:00 pm on 24 April 2017

Swarms of midges are making residents near the Christchurch sewage ponds feel like prisoners in their own homes.

The insects have been a problem ever since settling ponds in the eastern suburb were cleaned up about 10 years ago, which provided them with a better breeding ground.

Paul McKinley said they were so bad at night that he now stayed indoors as soon as the sun went down.

"I feel like we're trapped in our own homes, [we] can't have parties at night or barbeques.

"It's just a nightmare. Early mornings you get up to go to work and your windows are smothered with them and they get in your face and in your car and you eat them."

Sharon Nevitt, midges

Resident Sharon Nevitt. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Sharon Nevitt said staying on top of the swarms of insects was almost a full-time job.

"There are just dead bodies everywhere. You've got to keep the fly spray ... on them. They get on the ceiling and everywhere.

"We get a lot of daddy long legs here too because they just love all the midges. They're keeping them healthy and big."

Janet Profit

Janet Profit said they attracted other insects and animals that made even more mess. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Janet Profit said they also attracted large numbers of birds, which left droppings over residents' washing and cars.

The summer months when the midges moved off the sewage ponds and fanned out to surrounding houses were the worst, she said.

"In the daytime in the summer they're all over the houses, that's where they sit in the sun. And I mean at night time, if you've got the lights on, this is when they come back, and I mean your windows are just black.

"But the council have told us we just have to keep the doors and windows shut and the lights off. But that's not living, is it?"

She was now at the end of her tether.

"We don't want to be here but there's nowhere we can go."

Paul McKinley, midges

Resident Paul McKinley said the tiny insects get into your mouth. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Mr McKinley said he wanted to go too but doubted anybody would want to buy his home while the midges remained.

"We feel like we're not being listened to sometimes.

"I'm not saying they haven't tried or they're not doing anything but what they are doing isn't working. I'm starting to get quite angry about it."

Nobody from the Christchurch City Council was available to be interviewed but it said in a statement it had spent close to $800,000 over the past five years on measures to control the insects.

Its spokesperson said there was no easy solution and that adding salt to the ponds was not an option as it would harm other wildlife such as birds.