Noseeums, Biting Midges, Punkies, No-See-Ums, Culicoides furens
Noseeums: An Overview
There are over 4,000 species of noseeums (a.k.a. no-see-ums, biting midges, etc.) in the world. This includes those noseeums in the Ceratopogonidae family, genus Culicoides. The spread and distribution of noseeums in the genus Culicoides is world-wide, and these pesky insects are quite prevalent in the United States. For example, 47 noseeum species are known to occur in Florida alone. Noseeum species belonging to the genus Leptoconops, however, occur only in the tropics, sub-tropics, and some warmer coastal areas of the U.S.
Biting midges, punkies, or noseeums, are especially common along seashores and the shores of rivers and lakes. Their small size is how they got the name “no-see-ums” (that is, it’s difficult or impossible to see them) and yet their bites are far out of proportion to their size. Noseeum larvae are aquatic or semi-aquatic, found in wet sand, mud, ponds, small streams, and amidst the decaying moist vegetation of salt and freshwater marshes. Noseeums are believed to be scavenger hunters.
Adult biting midges (aka noseeums) are grayish in color with distinct wing patterns, but it is hard to see such details with the naked eye. When noseeums bite, or when they are resting, the wings are folded, scissor-like, over the abdomen. The eyes on each side of the head are black, and the biting parts of the mouth protrude forward and downwards. Noseeum eggs are tiny, cigar-shaped, and mostly black in color. The eggs of C. furens take about three days to hatch at around 80 °F.; those of C. barbosai, C. mississippiensis, and C. hollensis, take 5 days to hatch at around 80°F.
Some noseeum species occur primarily in the wet mud in and around mangrove swamps, salt-marshes, or other marshy areas. Noseeum larvae can exist in water, but not submerged. Mud around dairies, farms, and swine and sheep operation areas, may also show evidence of the presence of noseeums, a.k.a. biting midges.
Noseeum eggs, which cannot survive drying, are laid on wet mud in breeding places; these are the habitats where the juvenile stages (biting midge larvae) are found. The noseeum larvae develop through four stages, are creamy white in color, and appear somewhat eel-like. They are predaceous, feeding on other small organisms in the water. Full grown noseeum larvae are 1/8 to a little over 1/4″ long. The total time spent in the larval stage depends on temperature and season. When mature, the larvae change to pupae, and will remain in this stage for about 2-3 days.
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