Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | May 21, 2011

A LIttle Bug in Paradise

There is a little sign hanging outside our camper that reads…

…and that is exactly how Keith and I feel about our little spot in paradise here in Cedar Key.

Yet, there are some tiny biting flies who share our space and who can make it fairly uncomfortable being outdoors at dawn and dusk when there is no breeze. (Note: The breeze is the catch word here because they are incapable of flying in the wind, and since there is generally a gentle breeze from the Gulf, we are often spared from their attacks)

In Florida these little guys are called “No-See-Ums”, and there is nothing we have found yet that can protect us from them from more than 20 minutes or so.

No-See-Ums are so named because they are nearly invisible. You are hard-pressed to see them when in flight, and when they are on your skin they appear as a light gray speck. But, you sure can feel them when they bite!

Luckily, neither Keith nor I have a bad reaction to the bites, but some people develop red, itchy spots after being bitten.

No-See-Ums often stay in shrubs or the thick layer of dead leaves that can covers the ground.  In Cedar Key they live in the mangrove trees that border the island and keep it from eroding into the gulf.

One good thing is that they don’t stray too far from their breeding ground so it is possible to get out of the way by moving a few yards, but don’t count on it ~ you could just be moving into the territory of another swarm!

Only the female No-See-Ums bite, so you can take some comfort in knowing that only half of the No-See-Ums around can inflict damage.

In this part of Florida, No-See-Ums begin to appear in large numbers as soon as the spring warming trend begins. Biting females are abundant throughout the summer, with numbers decreasing as temperatures drop during the fall and winter months.

I can’t say that life wouldn’t be better without the No-See-Ums, but I can honestly say that it’s a small price to pay for the chance to live in Paradise!


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