No-see’ums; is there anything worst to be bitten by? For many, the answer is no. Once bitten, you will see a small red dot, that can expand from one to two inches in diameter with a slightly raised welt. The welt will be itchy, mildly painful and can last up to two weeks. They travel in large groups and will bite multiple times. While their favorite territory is legs, hands and the back of the neck any exposed skin can is fair game for them.
Also known as sandflies, No-see’ums are members of the Diptera insect order and undergo complete metamorphosis from the egg, larva, pupa, to adult in six weeks. They get their name from their size. Adults are less than 1/16 long, dark gray to black and have a pair of spotted wings. Their breeding area is predominately salt marshes. The inland species breed in tree holes and other freshwater areas.
You will find the larvae in mud, sand and moist debris surrounding the edges of springs, lakes, creeks, tree holes, ponds, and slimed-covered bark. When they are in the water, it’s not uncommon to find them floating on twigs or leaf debris as the larvae are free-living swimmers. While June, July, and August are the months with the greatest adult activity, larvae can be found year-round in marshes in Florida. Both the female and male consume nectar and other sweet tasting juices, just like mosquitoes, it’s only the adult females who bite. They need the blood to develop their eggs.
No-see’ums are sensitive to temperature and are attracted to someone with a high body temperature. Their activity is associated with air movement, a slight breeze will keep them away. The best way to control them is to reduce their breeding sites.
What to do if bitten?
If you’ve been bitten, as soon as possible, wash the area bitten with warm water and a mild antibacterial soap. This will eliminate any residual saliva from your skin and help reduce the irritation.
While almost impossible, try not to scratch the welts. Excessive scratching can open the welt and make it susceptible to infection.
For relief from the pain and itchiness, you can try putting ice cold towels, frozen vegetables or ice cubes on the bites for 10 to 15-minute intervals. Over the counter, analgesic will reduce the pain and antihistamines will relieve the itching. Also, cortisone creams will relieve the itching and swelling.
You can have an allergic reaction to a No-see’um bite. If you start wheezing, develop a rash, have difficulty swallowing, you should consult with a doctor.
Can No-see’ums transmit diseases?
Yes, no-see’ums do carry diseases and can transmit them through biting. Not all varieties carry diseases, but those found in tropical regions can cause chronic conditions such as phlebotomus and leishmaniasis. Both are difficult to cure. They can also transmit filarial worms in humans and the bluetongue virus in livestock.
Is there a repellant for no-see’ums?
An all-natural, skin safe repellent called No No-See-Um was specially designed to repel no-see’ums. It has also been effective in repelling mosquitoes, black flies and other biting insects.