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Interview With A Midge or No-see-um - The Lowdown On Their Life!

April 22, 2021 7 min read 10 Comments

A noseeum life cycle - egg to larva, to pupa, and finally to the adult stage - within a two to six week period.

                                           USA Store link  

This is why you need to have the best mosquito, noseeum and midge repellent available. 

Before we start don't forget to check out our proven range of deet-free effective natural vegan insect repellent products right here!

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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 a noseeum/midge in the picture below, sitting on the end of a finger.

Image of a noseeum  

 Image of A No-see-um/Midge on a Finger

People have given noseeums/midges several alternative, what I prefer to call derogatory, names all over the world, in England, Scotland and the United Sates 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 travelled!

Included in these 'bad names' (I'm only including the 'clean' nicknames here) are: Ceratopogonidae or biting midges, flying teeth, small flies, midges,midge flies punkies, sand gnat, sand fleas, granny nipper and chitra.

In many other parts of the world, including Australia and New Zealand, my noseeums relatives are known as sand flies.  You can read more about me here too!

How many noseeums species there in your family would you say?

Worldwide we have over 4,000 species (different types to you) of no-see-ums.  In the U.S. we have just 600 noseeum 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+ noseeum species in Florida alone!

noseeum taxonomy

      Chart Showing No-see-um Taxonomy

So, yes, noseeums have a big network and lots of variety; not only is variety the spice of life, but it makes us noseeums more unpredictable and the more difficult for you humans to deal with us. Some folks even reckon noseeums have been on the planet for 20 million years!   

How long do noseeums live?

Normally noseeums complete our life cycle - noseeums egg to larva, to noseeums pupa, and finally to the adult noseeum stage - within a two to six week period. Of course this can vary slightly depending on which of our many noseeum species you are talking about and the local environment they happen to be in, but two to six weeks is good rule of thumb.

noseeum and biting midges life cycle

Life Cycle of Biting Midges

The noseeum female, my wife, can lay up to 200 eggs at one time in a range of habitats right after each of her blood meals. 

Often  I 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!

So  where do noseeums live?

As a preferred 'nest of choice' we no see ums head for a damp area with a 'food source' very 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.

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 choice with the things you throw away and the messy yards you live in!

So what time of day do noseeums 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 noseeums 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 noseeums feed on other insects or other non-human animals. So you can see that noseeums 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 noseeum species of the whole biting midges world wide actually feed on the blood of mammals.

Biting midge or noseeum feeding

A Female No-see-um Feeding

In the U.S. you humans, and some of your livestock, are more concerned and bothered by my noseeum relatives in the Culicoides, Leptoconops and Forcipomyia families.  

Even then, it is the females from these families that bite you mammals. Come on, you've got to understand they only do it to get the necessary protein from your blood for healthy noseeum eggs to grow into our kids! 

You know what it's like for mother's, 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 noseeum has got pretty fierce mouth parts for a little thing and they act like scissors as they cut into your skin. The noseeum also introduces 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 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.

noseeum bite picture image

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 in 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 noseeum 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.

So what can we humans do to protect ourselves from noseeums?

  • How to get rid of noseeums is not that difficult. Noseeums control is a main concern for humans in your home environment and you probably don't know but above all else noseeums really hate natural predators such as small birds, bats, dragonflies and frogs; if you encourage these natural 'repellents' noseeums are not going to like it.
  • You also need to be aware of what attracts noseeums in the first place . Standing water (gutters, old pots, small ponds, old tires, troughs) is the key to their survival as a breeding ground.

image of a bat

Batsimage of a frog

Frogs

image of a dragonflyDragonflies

  • As mentioned earlier, you humans leave a lot of natural breeding grounds around for noseeums with standing water and damp in hundreds of places even swimming pools, rain barrels, old flowerpots, blocked rain gutters.  If you remove, cover, clean up and unblock most of these noseeums are going to find life tough in your neighbourhood.
  • Noseeums 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.
  • Noseeums 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 noseeum's flight ability; just a 2 mph wind can blow us noseeums away.

Image of a ceiling fan

FansImage of an air conditioner unit

Air Conditioner

 

Luxury Bug Repellent Bar

 

  • The bars are so simple to use, just rub the bars gently to 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 noseeum 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).   
  • Noseeums love to come out to play and feed at the cooler times of day, mainly dawn and dusk, so if you were sensible you'd schedule your outdoor activities to avoid noseeum daily peak times
  • Finally, if noseeums 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 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 noseeums 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.
USA website link

Hope this has been of help.

Whileyou are here why not read this fascinating and useful interview with a mosquito here.

The Solid Bar Company Team

References:

 

(This article was updated on 22nd April 2021)


10 Responses

The Solid Bar Company Support Team
The Solid Bar Company Support Team

October 14, 2021

Hello David,

Thank you for your comment and question. Not knowing specifically which island you are referring to, there is a high probability that you will be encountering the genus Leptoconops in the Bahamas although, as mentioned in our article, there are other possibilities and the genus Culicoides is ‘alleged’ to be the greater biter. Without a ‘catch and microscope examine’, to identify by email is impossible and would be wrong of me to try – I am sure you understand that.

We spent the best part of 3 years as yacht live-aboard a while back and lived in the Caribbean for a further 4 years, which was our inspiration for the company, and the repellent was our first product developed, tried, tested and successfully marketed from there!

If you look at our blog page here: https://thesolidbarcompany.com/pages/rebeccas-story. that boat image at paragraph 6. Inspiration is our boat moored at Rum Cay in the Bahamas. That was just after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 so, apart from the trail of devastation we witnessed on our way up through the Bahamas the lasting memory of Rum Cay was the no-see-ums! On any of the other many islands we visited, we did not notice their presence at all really.

When the rainy season starts, June through October, that’s when they come out to play – from our experience the only REAL outdoor ‘deterrent’ then is the Trade Winds – otherwise it’s our repellent. Otherwise, it would be some sort of chemical option, which is not good for you or the environment.

Just so you know, if you are US-based, our US store as here https://thesolidbarcompanyusa.com/ , is the best/cheapest/quickest place for you to purchase from. In addition, if you use discount code USA10 at checkout you will get an extra 10% off your order!

Hope that has helped; let us know how you get on.

Best, The Solid Bar Company Support Team

David Gould
David Gould

October 14, 2021

I cant wait to try this,.. they are a huge problem at our property in the Bahamas. Do you know what species reside there? and big question, can you recommend anything that we can use around the property or plants that can help reduce their numbers? signed #PLEASEHELP

The Solid Bar Company Support Team
The Solid Bar Company Support Team

October 07, 2021

Hi Santos- thanks you for your comment. To be honest it’d be pretty much impossible for a noseeum to get through the weave of a sheet or quilt – they might get trapped underneath when you enter/exit yourself but that is another matter. Do try our repellent, they work- we developed them when we were living in the USVI 10 years ago, and if you’ve ever been there (particularly St Johns) then you know how had they are there – makes Sanibel and the rest of FL (where we also lived!) and the southern states seem like heaven! We’ll agree to you sharing our article on your new blog on the strict conditions that it remains unabridged and you credit us with it! Also, do try our repellent (and anti-itch if you do get bitten!) you can get it from our USA website here: https://thesolidbarcompanyusa.com/ and if you use code USA10 you get 10% off at checkout! Let us know when your blog is live! Best wishes, The Solid Bar Company Team

Santos
Santos

October 07, 2021

I have struggled with (probably) noseeums in Tampa-FL for about 8 months inside my house.😩 As I read this funny article I got a break to laugh as they were biting my feet at the same time. I have just created a FB page and I will share your article if you allow me to. I have been fiercely attacked everywhere I go FL, GA and TN. They are attracted to me like iron to a magnet. I have tried virtually everything. One exterminator told me that if they like me they will never leave me alone and will find a way to get to me.😔 Ugh! The hardest part is to sleep. I have sewed one bedsheet and a quilt as a pocket with a velcro but they bite me inside. That tells me that they cross through the sheets and quilt. They are too tiny and fly too quickly to be caught and they don’t fall in the apple cider vinegar trap. You see them flying and they vanish in the air.😳 I have a lot to share about my long term experience with them but I will share more in my FB page and I will look into trying your products. Thank you for your funny and very informative article.

The Solid Bar Company Support Team
The Solid Bar Company Support Team

August 22, 2018

Hello Josephine – wow, thanks for your comment – not a great scenario at all – we do sympathise with your situation.

Not clear where in the world exactly you are or what your local environment is, whether you have pets and so forth, so it is difficult to offer any really valid opinion or solution remotely.

We think one of the big clues in your comment is where you say “…They attach themselves to your skin and it’s difficult to Shower them off!…” – this is far from typical of noseeum behaviour. If they are ‘disturbed; in any way they take off/fly off immediately and they certainly don’t “attach” themselves to you – that is more like the behaviour of ticks, chiggers or mites.

BUT, whilst there is a host of other information out there available to you on the web, unless you are a medical specialist or an entomologist then we strongly recommend that you seek early professional advice and remedy from your local MD – they should be able to identify the creatures, the bites and offer you a speedy solution.

Best wishes to you getting this resolved quickly!

The Solid Bar Company Team

josephine tailor
josephine tailor

August 22, 2018

My bedroom is infested with these noseeums…I cannot sleep in my bed without getting bit up all over my body.. Iam sleeping on the sofa. Which is not comfortable ! they go into your ear & in your hair! They attach themselves to your skin and it’s difficult to Shower them off! They go up your legs..thighs..your butt! Its disgusting and stressful! I have tried spraying bug spray…flea spray..home remedies like vinegar and dish detergent in a bowl to catch’en and kill’em! A exterminator sprayed and they are still here creating havoc! Please someone tell me how to get rid and kill them off! Slowly going crazy fighting these things !!!! help! Never heard of these bugs before#

The Solid Bar Company Support Team
The Solid Bar Company Support Team

November 09, 2017

Hello Kathy,

Thanks for your question – “what can I do after I’ve been bitten?” – which the following should answer:

The itch and the swelling after a bite is a result of the anticoagulant that the female mosquito injects when it is seeking out your blood to feed on for protein to feed her eggs. This anticoagulant is what, to different degrees – usually mild but up to severe itching – we humans have an allergic reaction.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (AAAAI), contact with a mosquito must be six seconds or longer to produce a reaction with symptoms occurring up to 48 hours after the initial bite.

So first clean the area with some rubbing alcohol. Then, depending on what you happen to have around, apply one of the following – some calamine lotion, witch hazel, vinegar, aloe vera and even a hydrocortisone cream if you have one. Thereafter, ice to cool and whatever you do, resist itching!

We produce a natural anti-itch product here: http://bit.ly/2jeXzNl. This has ingredients of juniper berries, juniper berry essential oil basil and lime for anti-inflammatory and natural anaesthetic properties. It works very well and fast.

If there is continuing impacting pain or discomfort you can take over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen (children under 16 years of age shouldn’t be given aspirin).

For itching – ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter treatments, including crotamiton cream or lotion, hydrocortisone cream or ointment and antihistamine tablets.

For swelling, you can try applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area, or ask your local pharmacist about treatments such as antihistamine tablets.

If you’re worried about a bite or sting and/or your symptoms don’t start to improve within a few days or are getting worse consult your doctor!

We hope that helps you – do let us know!

Best wishes!

Kathy Koster
Kathy Koster

November 08, 2017

Great info, but what can I do after I’ve been bitten?

Julie B
Julie B

September 30, 2017

I simply wish to say your article is as amazing. The clarity of your writing is simply excellent and I feel as though you are an expert in this subject. So, what I am doing is joining your RSS feed to stay up to date with approaching post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable reading work.

Gerry McGill
Gerry McGill

July 19, 2017

They sure are devilish little stingers, didn;t realise that they were all over the place – interesting article too. You might think that it’s funnily enough my leg looks just like that photograph in the middle of the page after visiting my daughter down in Naples, gonna check out your repellent stuff now and maybe send here some too.

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