No-See-Ums – The Scourge of the High Desert

Pretty much anywhere you live, you may be acquainted with no-see-ums, midges, sandflies, or punkies. If so, I’d bet that you don’t call them friends.

Two days ago, we were out picking cherries for just a few minutes. Since it was a quick trip, I did not put on any repellent. Now I’m regretting it.

no see um bite
No-see-um bite after two days

As is obvious, it’s nothing like a mosquito bite, at least for me. I lived in Papua New Guinea for thirty years. Several times, I had so many sandfly bites (they’re called sandflies in Australia) that I would have been hospitalized, if there had been any actual hospitals. It seems I’m super allergic to the proteins in their spit. Aside from crustaceans (prawns, shrimp, lobster), it’s the only allergy I have. Today, my forearm is very hot and about half again its normal size.

As the name suggests, they are absurdly tiny. If you get lucky and smash one, you’ll just think it’s a speck of dust, as this image shows:

Looks like a speck of dust
Looks like a speck of dust

If you could zoom your eyes in enough, you might see wings and legs:

No-see-um zoomed
No-see-um zoomed

None of the species bite a chunk out of anything. They are all sucking insects (you can say that again). Fortunately, some species only sip nectar. The nastier ones suck blood from animals, notably humans. For a real treat, have a look at another kind of midge which dines on bigger bugs.

Yuck! Enough of that.

We have a lovely garden, but I’ve learned that this time of the year, I have to use a repellent. I used to use 100% DEET, but it’s a bother when working, as my hands stick to anything plastic. Yes, DEET melts plastic. Though it’s effective, I can’t imagine anything which melts plastic is good for your skin.

our garden
Our Garden

Now I use the strongest mixture of picaridin I can find. It seems to work as well or better than DEET and my hand doesn’t get glued to a hammer handle.

By the way, my arm will continue looking like that or worse for more than a week.

2 thoughts on “No-See-Ums – The Scourge of the High Desert”

    1. Thanks, Sue. Sorry to be tardy. I don’t often check comments, since I get hardly any.

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