From an earlier post here, I mentioned that there were biting midges in the marina and beaches near Sarasota, FL where we are living aboard our boat.¬† They are commonly referred to as “no-see-ums” because they are too small to see until they actually bite you.¬†¬† The photo shows you the size comparison borrowed from the University of Florida website.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of taking Ethan out to the beach and then to the marina swimming pool on a peak no-see-um day.¬† Despite being protected with DEET, I received well over 100 bites.¬† Worse, I quickly learned that I am allergic to these pesky little insects.
Ethan, like Joe, received no bites, thank goodness.¬† Guess they had me around for the no-see-ums to munch on.
If you are allergic to these critters, your reaction will depend on your body’s immune response to the no-see-um’s saliva.¬† The bites I received swelled up into large welts, some with fluid filled blisters.¬† The itching and pain were intense.¬† Sleep for the first 3-4 nights was impossible. The worst of the itching lasted 5 days and 8 days later, the bites are still healing.
Remedies tried with various results (in order of temporary effectiveness): ibuprofen for pain, and hydro cortisone (prescription strength) on the bites.¬† Also tried acetone or lidocaine sparingly dabbed on with a q-tip, and finally, Afterbite. ¬† The medical professionals reading this may be cringing, but I was desperate to control the itching.¬† You also must control the urge to scratch, otherwise, you might end up with infected bites.¬† Time finally needed to pass before the symptoms subsided.¬† I did not try Benedryl as research told me this would not be effective.
In order to control them on the boat, I tried a few cruising tricks, including placing a double layer of bridal veil fabric taped over the companionway hatch vents.¬† Unsightly, but works well as a temporary measure.¬† Also placed fans on high since the no-see-ums dislike moving air.¬† Finally, I was forced to cover up, which was not fun in the heat and humidity.
Future suggestions:¬† Use 100% DEET, found at REI, I am told.¬† I had used a lesser strength, which did not work.¬† Take care to not go out at dusk and dawn, especially when the wind is still. I also plan to create a mosquito/no-see-um tent to sleep under for all the berths on board, too, as well as adding additional fans to our sailboat.
If you have any remedies for no-see-um control or bite relief, please leave me a comment.¬† I have a feeling this won’t be my only encounter with them while we are cruising.
Postscript 2017- I have learned that the first time you receive noseeums bites, you have the worst reaction. ¬†The best way to deal with noseeums are to not be outside at dusk and dawn on still nights- meaning no wind. ¬†Cover up and use deet. ¬†Noseeums tend to like me over both Joe and Ethan, this is pretty typical. The noseeums and I have learned to coexist peacefully!