This is why you need to have the best mosquito, noseeum, and midge repellent available.
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So Mr Noseeum (Midge), what exactly are you?
Well, the best way to describe a noseeum/midge is as a small biting fly no more than 3mm in length but I pack a pretty big punch! That's one in the picture below, sitting on the end of a finger - so you can see how difficult they are to spot with the naked eye.
Image of A No-see-um or Biting Midge on a Finger
People have given noseeums, biting midges or biting gnats several alternative, what I prefer to call derogatory, names all over the world, in England, Scotland and the United States wherever we live - in fact in the USA they can't even decide on the best way to spell our name some call us noseeums, some no see ums and some no see ems.
We have a bad name wherever we live, particularly in the Florida areas of Miami, Naples Beach, Sanibel, and Vero Beach, in Texas, Hilton Head, South Carolina, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, and the US Virgin Islands just to name a few, and also all around the world in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Belize, UK, Scotland and the rest of Europe - we're well-traveled!
Included in these 'bad names' (I'm only including the 'clean' nicknames here) are: Ceratopogonidae or biting midges, flying teeth, small flies, biting midges, midge flies punkies, sand gnat, sand fleas, granny nipper and chitra.
How many noseeums species there in your family would you say?
Worldwide we have over 4,000 species (different types to you) of us. In the U.S. we have just 600 species within 36 genera (families) and, locally in the U.S., or my immediate family as I call them, there are in the region of 50+ species in Florida alone!
Chart Showing No-see-um Taxonomy
So, yes, we have a big network and lots of variety; not only is variety the spice of life, but it makes us more unpredictable and more difficult for you humans to deal with us. Some folks even reckon we have been on the planet for 20 million years!
How long do noseeums live?
Normally we complete our life cycle - egg to larva, to pupa, and finally to the adult stage - within a two to six-week period. Of course, this can vary slightly depending on which of our many species you are talking about and the local environment they happen to be in, but two to six weeks is a good rule of thumb.
Life Cycle of Biting Midges
The female, my wife, can lay up to 200 eggs at one time in a range of habitats right after each of her blood-sucking meals.
OftenI hear humans ask can I or do I live in their hair? The simple answer is, you must be joking, of course, I can't and don't - why on earth would I when there are so many other attractive damp and smelly places to hang out!
Sowhere do these annoying biting insects live?
As a preferred 'nest of choice,' we no see ums head for a damp area with a 'food source' every time and this can include wet soil, standing water, dung/droppings from cattle or other animals, water vegetation, slow-running streams, rotting vegetable matter and so forth. You also find us in coastal areas.
Noseeums are not really that fussy, the more moist, warm, and smelly the better really and you humans sure know how to provide us with plenty of choices with the things you throw away and the messy yards you live in!
So what time of day do we come out?
Most, but not all, like their big annoying brother the mosquito are known as crepuscular (active primarily during twilight rather than in hours of full daylight or full darkness, and so feed at dawn and dusk and for a few hours into the night.
However, having said that, there are often some aggressive realtives that ignore this 'rule' in various locations and will be on the hunt for a feed at any time of day!
What do noseeums feed on?
Well, most of us feed on other insects or other non-human animals. So you can see that we get a lot of bad press, mainly due to the female of the species - I'll come to that in a moment. Only four genera in one of the species of the whole biting midges worldwide actually feed on the blood of mammals.
A Female No-see-um Feeding
In the U.S. you humans, and some of your livestock, are more concerned and bothered by my relatives in the Culicoides, Leptoconops and Forcipomyia families.
Even then, from these families, it is the female biting you mammals. Come on, you've got to understand they only do it to get the necessary protein from your blood for healthy eggs to grow into our kids!
You know what it's like for mothers, instinct takes over and she searches out the closest and best blood source and if that's a human then, sorry people 'cause I know it hurts but, it's going to happen.
The female has got pretty fierce mouthparts for a little thing and they act like scissors as they cut into your skin. They also introduce an anti-coagulant at the same time to help the blood flow and that, in the wound, is what causes the stinging that drives you humans nuts!So, if you do get bitten, for treating no see um bites you should try this fast-acting natural anti-itch balm.
Do noseeums transmit diseases?
Generally, the answer is no, we don't really get into that for humans, except, well to be honest in parts of South America, Africa, and the Caribbean we (and our larger cousins the mosquito) have been known to transmit parasites that form infections, dermatitis and skin lesions from filarial worms.
But, hey, given the number of us out there biting people, this is still a relatively rare occurrence though, so come on give us a break.
No-see-um Bite Marks
In animals, no-see-ums have been identified as being responsible for the transmission of bluetongue virus to sheep and cattle in the U.S. causing annual economic trade damage valued at millions of dollars.
Noseeums are also known to transmit Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease virus to cattle, sheep, goats, and deer, the last of these being the main affected.
Horses sometimes experience allergic reactions to our bites which primarily results in some form of dermatitis - so if you are a horse owner you might be interested to see our really effective Equine Bug Repellent.
How to protect ourselves from noseeums?
How to get rid of no see ums bugs is not that difficult. Pest control is the main concern for humans in your home environment and you probably don't know but above all else we really hate natural predators such as small birds, bats, dragonflies, and frogs; if you encourage these natural 'repellents' we are not going to like it.
You also need to be aware of what attracts us in the first place. Standing water (gutters, old pots, small ponds, old tires, troughs) is the key to their survival as a breeding ground.
As mentioned earlier, you humans leave a lot of natural breeding grounds around for no see ums bugs with standing water and dampness in hundreds of places, especially in coastal areas, even swimming pools, rain barrels, old flowerpots, and blocked rain gutters. If you remove, cover, clean up and unblock most of these we are going to find life tough in your neighbourhood.
We love flying through big mesh screens. If you get very small gauge porch and door screens and window meshes and keep them in good order you're going to ruin our day and a lot of our access to you.
We hate the cold so if you use air-conditioning inside it's a big deterrent. Otherwise, those fancy overhead fans that circulate the air sure disrupt no see ums bugs' flight ability; just a 2 mph wind can blow us away.
The bars are so simple to use, just rub the bars gently on all areas of exposed skin. They are super-effective repellents for up to six hours but reapply as necessary and as your local conditions require and, as with all other repellents, don't miss any areas because the bugs will find them.
But you should be aware that not one single repellent is going to be able to deal with ALL of no see um bugs species (even super strength deet - there's enough of us to adapt to that chemical stuff - and it'll probably 'cause you more harm than us in the long run).
We love to come out to play, feed, and do some blood-sucking at the cooler times of day, mainly dawn and dusk, so if you were sensible you'd schedule your outdoor activities to avoid no see um bugs daily peak times. But, if you are out and about be sure to wear long sleeves and long leg-coverings!
Finally, if we do get in, you can always resort to bed nets at night we're not keen on them either, but remember we're small!
Be aware that pest control insecticides are generally ineffective and will only offer very short-term and temporary relief for you, so you'll have to apply them regularly, and boy those chemicals.......all I'm saying is that you might get a few no see um bugs but in the end.......well it's your funeral......know what I mean? And if you have any doubts about the potential effects of deet then check this clothing damage out,as shown at SectionHiker.com.