By Stephanie A. Mayberry
They can ruin your outdoor fun in no time flat. One minute you’re enjoying your barbeque or visiting with friends and the next you are being assaulted by some unseen force with a painful bite that results in red bumps or welts – that itch like crazy.
I’m talking about the biting midge, also known as “no see ums.” If you’ve spent any time outside, especially near water, you have probably already become acquainted with them. They are not good friends to have.
Know your Enemy – The No See Um
No see ums are tiny little gnats, usually less than 1/8 of an inch long, and were given the nickname because, well, you usually can’t see them. Their bodies are delicate and they are easily killed, but the problem with controlling no see ums is their sheer numbers. They swarm and there are usually just too many to swat. They just keep coming and coming.
They prefer to live around water so ponds, lakes, rivers, marshes, even standing water in your yard could become a no see um commune. They feed on blood and do not have very discerning tastes – basically anything with blood will do. If you move into their area or they decide to homestead in your yard, the moment you step outside you’ll become the catch of the day.
These insects are tiny enough to fit through screens, but the “experts” say they won’t do it. Right. I’m not claiming to be an expert or anything, but I’ve seen a ton of forums where people are talking about putting borax in their carpet to get rid of no see ums in their homes. Just sayin’.
Where are No See Ums Located?
At any point on the globe, you can usually find at least one species of no see um. They prefer moist environments, though, so coastal waterways, swamps, marshes, and bodies of water tend to be where they congregate. That is why you might see the if you camp near a river or body of water. However, even if you are inland you could still encounter them, especially if it has rained recently and there is standing water or damp leaves and foliage. In the United States, they have been noted in every state to some degree, although their populations are much heavier near water.
How to get rid of No See Ums
There are some products worth mentioning that can help you repel no see ums or get rid of them. At the very least you should be able to control no see ums in your immediate vicinity.
Do My Own Pest Control
My husband, who is a pest control pro, recommends this site to some people who want some control over their pest issues. In some cases you just can’t get around hiring a pro, but sometimes you can take care of things on your own. Anyway, they do have several DIY pest control products that control no see ums – it just depends on how far you want to go. They do offer a bug spray, 565 Plus XLO, which is a non-residual contact insecticide. The description says it has a “slight odor” but it also says it kills just about any insect – including bed bugs.
Because it is a contact insecticide, you should back it up with a residual or some citronella candles placed around the area where you will be. This will help to repel the gnats and at least reduce their numbers, giving you some degree of control over them.
This company has a couple of products that look promising – although we’ve never had any dealings with them, so I can’t really endorse them. They suggest a two-layer approach to repelling no see ums by using a powder product and repellant candles.
Mosquito Gnat Noseeum Flying Insect Repellent Granules is said to be safe for pets and children. The directions advise applying it to the plants, turf, and perimeter of where you want to repel the insects about 12 hours prior to going outside. The site also advises using their Conceal Candles to act as a second layer of protection.
All the products listed here on both sites have high ratings and glowing reviews so it’s really just a matter of choice regarding what you want to go with to control your gnat problem.
It is worth noting that there is a lot of hype about a product called a “Mosquito Magnet” which is essentially a propane mosquito trap. Some say they work; others say they don’t. My husband says that they can be effective, but you have to place them properly and should be as far away from people as possible. That can be difficult at a campground. I did find some information on a study that was done and the results reported in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association regarding the effectiveness of the Mosquito Magnet on controlling no see ums. According to the study, the results were inconsistent. In all fairness, this study is from 2005 so the company may have improved their product since then. I’m just putting the information out there, do with it what you will.
I did run across an interesting home remedy for controlling no see ums. Someone in a camping forum suggested putting out a bowl or cup of vinegar with a little dish soap in it. They said that the insects are attracted to the vinegar, but the dish soap traps them when they go after it. I have not tested this so I can’t speak to its effectiveness, but that person seemed pretty happy with the solution.
So, have you ever encountered no see ums? What have you done to control them? And the big question, were you successful?
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