Noseeums: Bites, Prevention, and More
Bites from Noseeums
One scientist compared the bite of a noseeum to a sudden jab from a fat needle—all the more astonishing because many of these gnats are only a millimeter in size. As adults, the most troublesome species graduate to a diet that includes blood. Unlike with their relative, the mosquito, male as well as female biting midges may seek blood meals. But how can such a tiny creature (and one that at times seems invisible to the naked eye) deliver such a terrifyingly big bite?
Much of the answer lies in the structure of the biting midge’s mouth parts. Noseeums bite with a long proboscis—a kind of tubular feature—that is equipped with hardened “blades” that protrude from the tip to easily slice open skin. Bites can cause burning, itching and, in sensitive individuals, welts that can persist for several days. Some species transmit diseases. They suck blood from not only humans, but also from other mammals, reptiles, and even other insects.
Noseeum Bite Prevention
Keep in mind that houses and other buildings with outdoor lighting may attract large numbers of midges. Here are some tips to prevent them from causing a nuisance:
• Move light away from sensitive areas such as doorways, windows, porches, etc.
• Avoid the use of unnecessary lights until 45 minutes after sundown, since 90% or more of noseeum flight activity takes place before that time.
• Replace 100-Watt mercury vapor lights (i.e. those which produce ultraviolet energy) with a different kind of 50-Watt high-pressure sodium vapor light. Midge concentrations should be significantly reduced. (Note: Lights least attractive to these insects are sodium vapor or halogen with pink, yellow, or orange tints, as well as dichrom yellow bulbs.)
Blacklight traps (a.k.a. “bug zappers”) will kill midges, but unfortunately they also often attract more midges into the area than are killed—so this is not recommended.
• Larvae have been controlled in small bodies of water by stocking the water with carp and goldfish at the rate of 170 to 600 pounds of fish per acre of water.
• Biting midges apparently do not travel far from the place where larvae develop, so one may often avoid punkie attacks by simply moving a few yards away from their area.
Believe it or not, there are over four thousand species of no-see-ums (a.k.a. noseeums, biting midges, punkies, etc.) known to man. Are these little pests becoming a nuisance for you?
Biting midges of the Ceratopogonidae family in the genus Culicoides exist in many locales throughout the world, and the United States is no exception. In the state of Florida alone, 47 species of noseeums are known to exist. Punkie species in the genus Leptoconops, on the other hand, are found only in the tropics and sub-tropics, and only affect the U.S. in warmer coastal areas.