Biting midges, also known as no-see-ums, are a common Florida pest. These pests actively seek humans and animals to feed off of and will bite readily, leaving painful lesions. Biting midges are very small and blend into most surroundings, so people frequently feel something biting, but cannot see the tiny assailants. Find out how you can benefit from pest control in Florida.
Biting Midges Feeding Habits
Biting midges usually feed at sunrise and sunset, preferring the cooler temperatures and stillness of those times of days. On cloudy days when winds are calm, biting midges might feed all day. The natural habitat of biting midges may vary by species; Florida contains about 47 different species. Most species prefer marshy areas, but some prefer areas where the soil is moist but not wet, such as farms.
Identifying Biting Midges
Biting midges are very tiny, ranging in size from one to three millimeters. Most species are a light grayish color that is difficult to see. When biting midges feed, they fill up with blood. Victims may notice reddish spots on the body area that are actually the midges filling with a blood meal. Midges are usually not noticed until they begin to bite, which victims feel as sharp, painful, burning sensations on exposed areas of skin.
Biting Midge Dangers
In the U.S., biting midges typically don’t spread disease to humans, but they may cause allergic reactions. In Central and South America, biting midges commonly carry and spread parasitic worms. Biting midges may also spread diseases such as the bluetongue virus to cattle and sheep in many areas, including the US.
Biting Midge Management
Environmental control of biting midges can be very difficult because biting midges are continuously moving from one life stage to the next and treatments only work on midges in one life stage or another. Continuous daily treatment of an area is not safe for the environment. It is generally easier and more effective to control moisture drainage to make an environment less habitable for biting midges, and then take precautions to keep biting midges out of areas used for leisure or work.
Screening in patios and other entertainment areas with fine mesh screens can help to keep biting midges away and prevent bites. Using ceiling or window fans may also help to deter biting midges, as they are weaker fliers. Wearing insect repellant that contains DEET when performing outdoor activities can help prevent bites, as well.