Also known as sand flies and biting midges, no-see-ums are tiny gnats prevalent along the Texas Gulf Coast. They’re also common in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the San Francisco Bay area. In addition to disrupting fun outdoor activities, these insects can cause itchy bites in humans and spread fatal illness to animals. Read on to learn all about these pesky pests and how to avoid them.
What Are No-See-Ums?
There are over 4,000 species of biting midges in Texas and other coastal areas of the U.S. As the name “no-see-um” implies, these insects are very small (adults are less than 3 mm long) and capable of getting through mesh screens on windows and doors. Often, you won’t even notice these miniscule gnats when they sneak into your home or land on your skin.
No-see-ums lay their eggs in wet sand or soil. Common breeding grounds for midges in Texas include swamps, marshes, streams and ponds, treeholes, and even in plants that retain pockets of water.
What Do Their Bites Look Like?
Bites from no-see-ums appear as small red dots or raised welts that are itchy and very painful. In most cases, they are more painful and irritating than mosquito bites and tend to last much longer. No-see-ums are attracted to all areas of exposed human skin, but most frequently bite hands, legs, and the backs of people’s necks.
Do No-See-Ums Carry Disease?
Like mosquitoes, biting midges can carry pathogens that cause disease in humans and animals. Fortunately, they rarely infect humans in the U.S. However, they do commonly transmit disease to sheep and cattle, which can have serious consequents. In fact, one of these diseases, known as the bluetongue virus, is responsible for losses in the U.S livestock industry of $144 million each year.
Other animals that can become sick from infected no-see-um bites include sheep, goats, and deer. Horses can also experience an allergic reaction to bites that causes inflammation in the mane, tail, withers, and ears.
How Can I Prevent & Treat Bites?
If you’re experiencing discomfort from no-see-ums bites, try your best not to scratch them as it can lead to infection. Holding ice, a bag of frozen veggies, or a clean cloth soaked in cold water against the bite for 10 minutes at a time can help minimize pain and itching.
Avoiding no-see-ums is difficult because they are so small. The best way to protect yourself from bites is to be proactive about pest control and have a professional evaluate your property. Contact MosquitoNix® today to learn about our effective and affordable pest control solutions.
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