No-See-Ums

No-See-Ums


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.

12037958_10205118017210522_7628432952028670176_nUnfortunately, 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.

IMG_6972In 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!



10 thoughts on “No-See-Ums”

  • Mine would pus white and then yellow. I got so many while living in Panama! I found long sleeves and long pants would help. I also found that a product called Stokogard (from Sweden) helped me a lot. I’ve researched and cannot find it any longer – darn! I, too, used 100% deet but it did not help me. They’re pesky little things – good luck!!

  • I have no recommendation for prevention, seems like that’s going to be the challenge, but I can recommend Dr Tichenor’s antiseptic gel for bite relief. You can order it from Amazon.

    • Thanks, Viki, I have wondered if there were sand fleas in the bite mix. Some sites use the term sand flea and no-see-um interchangeably, do you know if there is a difference?

      Bites were concentrated in the extremities and exposed areas. It continued while I slept, too. Where in the So Pacific have you encountered them? Have heard the Marquesas have horrible no-see-ums.

  • You need to look for “no-see-um” netting for the boat. I know REI makes their tents with it – have for years. Google it, should be easy to find. As far as for yourself, DEET is the best I know of.

  • Carla,
    Ikea sells a netting that hangs from the ceiling and goes around your bed. Not sure if they still sell them still or if the netting holes are small enough for the no-see ums not to get through. Worth a look online on the Ikea site though. I wish you luck with you search.
    Pauline in Calgary.

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