No-see-ums, also known as noseeums, gnats, or biting midges, are small and stealthy. And they use it well to their advantage especially when it comes to spotting their next victim.
In this no-see-um guide, you'll learn:
- What no-see-ums are
- What attracts these bugs
- How to identify and prevent bites
- How to get rid of these gnats
They don't normally invade your home, but they're more than capable of ruining your outdoor moments in the park, forest, and even in your own backyard.
Despite their seemingly harmless size, these gnats can deliver a painful bite that can leave an irritating and annoying mark for days.
What are No-See-Ums?
Technically known as ceratopogonidae, no-see-ums are a type of small flies that have a lot in common with mosquitoes. The males of both insects feed on nectar while their females hunt for blood meal to help her produce eggs for reproduction.
When the time comes, female no-see-ums seek out moist nesting grounds for their eggs to mature. And in less than a month, the next generation of adult biting midges emerge.
These small (1-3 mm) but terrible flies also have a lot of names. Sandflies, punkies, and sand gnat are to name a few.
These blood sucking midges consume their blood meal from both human and animal hosts. Their bites are quite painful which can leave red and itchy welts that can eventually lead into rash especially for those who are allergic to insect bites.
What Attracts No-See-Ums?
Ever wondered why you are such a magnet for no-see-ums? Here's a good explanation of why.
As mentioned earlier, no-see-ums share a lot of traits with mosquitoes and these include their hunting behavior. Biting gnats are hematophagic pests. They can spot their next blood meal through the amount of carbon dioxide and heat emitted from their prey.
Another significant factor that attracts no-see-ums to their victims is the odor produced through increased levels of lactic acid in the system. These factors are commonly found on people who are working out, overweight individuals, and pregnant women.
What Do No-See-Um Bites Look Like?
No-see-ums are so tiny that the adult insect only grows up to 0.03 inches in length. Their size makes them physically undetectable most of the time except for the "um" voice that you get to hear as the insect gets to pass right next to your ear.
Despite their miniature appearance, no-see-ums, particularly the females deliver a painful bite as they suck their blood ration from their victim.
Like mosquitoes, no-see-ums produce an anticoagulant fluid through their saliva for continuous blood flow. This fluid also triggers an allergic reaction that manifest the insect's bite marks.
No-see-um bites look like red bumps with itchiness and pain that are several times stronger than those of mosquitoes. These welts also last much longer compared to mosquito bites.
And since their bites are insanely itchy, it is sometimes impossible not to scratch them. When scratched and not treated properly, the small bumps can easily turn into infected lesions that can last for several weeks.
Below is a short video that will tell you more about no-see-ums and how to get rid of them.
How Can You Prevent Bites from No-See-Ums?
Fortunately for us, especially those who simply love to be one with nature, there are a couple of ways to steer away from no-see-um bites.
The most basic method for bite prevention from the midges is using insect repellents with high dose of DEET (diethyltoluamide). Over the counter picaridin repellents are also proven to be equally effective.
Read More: Click here to learn more about DEET
However, DEET and picaridin repellents are not advisable for everyone. Pregnant women and people who have sensitive skin may have adverse effects from such products. In such cases, citronella and lemon eucalyptus oil or other natural repellents can be used as an alternative.
Read More: Click here to learn more about citronella
If you are not fond of using repellents, your best bet of protecting yourself from no-see-um bites is by putting on more clothes to cover your exposed skin, especially when you are camping, fishing, golfing, or just hanging around in your backyard.
Long sleeves, socks, pants, and hat will be your main battle suit in the great outdoors.
This video shows bite symptoms from other biting insects as well as how to deal with them.
How Can You Get Rid of No-See-Ums in Your House?
Just because no-see-ums are more of an outdoor type of insect doesn't mean that they won't wander into your home.
In fact, biting gnats are so small that penetrating your home will be like a walk in the park for them. So make no mistake: No-see-ums will get into your home for a bite.
In order to keep these punkies away from your home, here are some precautionary measures that you can consider:
- No-see-ums thrive in hot summer months so it's best to keep your windows and doors closed during this time of the year.
- Or you can opt for small mesh window screens to keep the insects from infiltrating your home.
- Use your AC unit and use it well. No-see-ums don't like cold temperatures so cranking up your air conditioner can help you secure a relaxing and bite-free time at home.
- Support your AC unit or use it alternately with a dehumidifier. No-see-ums avoid less humid spaces.
For worse cases of no-see-um infestation in your house, you can use our Trusted Exterminator Search Tool.
How Can You Get Rid of No-See-Ums in Your Yard?
Whether you like gardening or just want to enjoy sunsets right from your own backyard, knowing how to repel no-see-ums can help you enjoy fresh garden air without those painful and itchy bites.
These proven effective tips can help turn your garden into a no-see-um free backyard paradise:
- Eliminate all standing water in your garden.
- Maintain cleanliness in your bird bath by dumping old, dirty water and replenishing with clean, fresh water daily.
- Use insecticide spray if a significant number of adult no-see-ums are present in your backyard.
- If the weather permits, use conceal candles to hide you and your family from no-see-um radar.
Get Rid of No-See-Ums Naturally
It's natural to immediately rely on chemical insecticides in our fight against pestering insects. Mosquito repellent is, after all, a reliable method for mosquito control.
However, every insect battle has always had a natural alternative that offers safer and equally effective approach. And this includes:
- Botanical candles and fragrances such as citronella, peppermint, lemongrass, and eucalyptus.
- Redesign your garden landscape by eliminating swampy or moist ground.
- Add some green in both the interior and exterior of your property. These are plants that are known for their insect repelling properties and such include basil, mint, lemon thyme, lemongrass, rosemary, and oregano.
Final Thoughts on Getting Rid of No-See-Ums
The most efficient way to get rid of gnats in your home and yard is to get rid of what attracts them. Making your home uninviting to no-see-ums will keep these biting bugs away.
How do you know if no-see-ums are gone? After all, you can't see them! Well, the absence of their pesky buzzing and itchy bites are both good indicators.
If you are having problems with other invasive insects, simply browse through our comprehensive list of Pest Killing Guides.
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