No-See-Ums A.K.A. Sand Flies and Biting Midges

Depending on where you live in the world, you might refer to these nuisance flies as no-see-ums, sandflies, biting midges (there are midges that don’t bite), punkies, or just sand fly (sandflies actually belong to a different biological group).

No-see-um (Culicoides sonorensis) Biting Midge

In California, no-see-ums are tiny, black biting gnats that tend to attack humans outdoors in grassy moist areas, such as parks, ponds, golf courses, beach areas, etc. They are so tiny, you almost “no see them!” Nuisance Flies are insects in the order of Diptera, meaning two-winged. They can be very annoying and many of the flies spread diseases to people and animals. Depending on the geography, nuisance flies carry disease causing pathogens which are transmitted by their bite. According to the California Department of Public Health, however, no-see-ums in California do not transmit diseases to humans but they do cause very painful bites that can itch for days.

No-see-um bites are painful and last for days.

Southern California has a Mediterranean climate with hot, hot summers, and mild, wet winters. Our idea of hot is a dry heat but with global climate changes, our state is no exception. The humidity levels here appear to be rising which has led to an increase in no-see-ums and other nuisance flies. We SoCals just are not used to dealing with humidity. … Only female no-see-ums bite. They need blood to reproduce. No-see-ums like moisture; standing water is a good source for them to hang out and lay their eggs. Then in May and June, the babies are born – just in time to become outdoor summer pests.

Preventing No-see-ums around Your Home

Lots of moisture and humidity is the key for attracting no-see-ums. These little gnats are so tiny; they could pass through a screen, if they wanted too but most of the time no-see-ums are found outdoors. There are a few things you can do to keep production of no-see-ums from becoming an infestation:
  • a. Refrain from over-watering the grass and plants.
  • b. Keep potted plants well-drained and careful not to overwater. Mosquitoes will lay their eggs too, if there’s too much water.
  • c. Check your irrigation system for leaking sprinklers and puddles of water.
  • d. Make sure your screens don’t have any gaps or tears.
  • e. Mow your lawn often to keep it short.
  • f. Seal any crevices or cracks.

Leaky irrigation can create standing water for no-see-ums to lay their eggs.

Too late? Already been bit from hanging out at the beach or a park? Try some of these home remedies for easing the pain and to keep the bites from itching:
  • 1. Wash the area with soap and water.
  • 2. An icepack will help the swelling and ease the pain.
  • 3. Apply hydrocortisone just on the bites, not on the skin around them, to help relieve the itching.
  • 4. Two other alternatives to relieve itching is good old calamine lotion; dab on with cotton balls or, aloe vera gel (not lotion).
Note: If symptoms persist after 7 days, check in with your doctor.

Pest Control for No-see-ums

The best form of pest control to keep biting no-see-ums from taking over your yard is prevention. Following the preventative tips above should suffice, however, if there is a definite source such as a potted plant or standing water, Hearts Pest Management can treat the eggs and larvae of no-see-ums. For a free landscape inspection, call us today at 800-986-1006 or use the form below to email us and a customer service representative will get right back to you.
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