June 14

No-See-Um but you certainly Feel-um!


No-see-ums are unknown by their scientific name of Ceratopogonidae ... and it's no wonder with a name like that! 

But they are known all over the world by names like - biting midges - midgies in Scotland - no-see-ums - "sand flies" - punkies in the Americas - "sand flies" in Australia and "purruja" in Ecuador.


All members of a family of tiny midges that are from 1 to 4 millimetres long.

The name "sand fly" is incorrect, as it is also applied informally to many other biting flies.

Throughout the world biting midges inhabit aquatic or semiaquatic environments and mountain areas. 

Biting Midges

Females, like with mosquitoes, are the mean ones. Sucking blood from host animals for the purpose of reproduction.

A bite from one of these tiny midges causes a reaction way in excess of their size!

In humans the allergic response causes an intensely itchy, red welt that can irritate for more than a week. And they’ll bite you anywhere … even the on the palms of your hand or the soles of your feet.

The discomfort occurs from a localized allergic reaction to the proteins in their saliva.

Applying some topical antihistamine creams may alleviate the itchiness ... but this is just temporary relief. Someone even suggested rubbing them with toothpaste!

Some of these flies are so small that they can pass through any standard fly screens!.

Camping tents are often equipped with extra-fine mesh netting, called “no-see-um” net, to keep these pests out. One experienced researcher recommends: "a mesh size of 750 per square centimetre will stop most biting midges". But you'll need a mesh size more than half of that  ensure that even the smallest cannot feast on you.

My first experience of these tiny flies was in San Isidro de El General (Perez Zeledon) in Costa Rica. Then on the Inca Trail in Peru and finally in Vilcabamba Ecuador. The bites raise hard welts that itch on and off at random times … with the most annoying waking you up in the middle of the night.

You definitely don’t see em but you feel em! For days and weeks.


biting midges, midgies, No-see-ums, punkies, sand flies, sandflies

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