Noseeums are easy to kill...
Can you say
Noseeums, biting midges, insects from
beyond the lower inferno...whatever you want to call them, are easy enough to kill.
Just smash them with your finger. This is great, if you see one.
The problem is that even if you see one, you may not see it. They
are that small. Some people claim they can feel them crawling
around. I certainly can't...and that's even when I have all my
receptors turned up to max.
Noseeums live in the top part of the
forest soils in the leaves. They prefer damp places, but it's not
mandatory with them. While chiggers and ticks in our area seem to
go dormant about the first of October, noseeums may not until much
later, or maybe not at all. I suspect they are ready for a good
feed on any warm day, of which there are plenty right thru
the middle part of December.
The current thinking is that noseeums
will generally travel not more than 300 feet from the hatching
place. I guess there are any number of them on the wing anyway,
but you really stir them up as you scruffle along in the leaves
scouting, hunting, or just walking around in your back yard. To a
noseeum, your open pant leg looks like just about the most
inviting place in the whole world. Once they fly up that warm,
yawning cave, it's tux, tie and tails all the way for a super dining
experience. You can tie down your pants leg and zip up
everything else real tight, but it really doesn't matter to
something as small as this hellishly hungry creature.
The good news is that they hate insect
repellants with DEET
as much as mosquitoes. The bad news is that if you're a deer
hunter, deer don't think much of it either. So, bug repellant does
work, so it is said. It's all about how much you hate noseeums and
love to eat venison. If you are a backpacker, you might consider
one of a number of head to toe mesh outfits you can purchase. It's
cheaper than a surplus NASA space suit. The best of all defense
seems to be wide expanses of dry, leafless terrain...like grass
filled subdivisions. It says something for living in town.
I have spoken in particular to
outdoorsmen, because they are...mostly outdoors. Frankly, I don't
have any experience with home owners who are faced with a noseeum
problem. I really can't imagine. I really can't. While noseeums
will die just as well as most other bugs if enough poison is used,
they are so numerous as to make them almost impossible to control.
And we are talking control...not eradication. Like our friends,
kudzu and fire ants, it looks like they are here to stay.
So, friends. The tip off that you have
made the acquaintance of Ms. Ceratopogonidae, AKA, devil insect-
fly from the bad place, is that about a day later, a small
intensely itchy bump will rise from your soft flesh. Later, it may
develop a clear blister. Scratching and digging at the bump, as
you will doubtless do, only make it worse. The itching, along with
the bump, will fade after a week or so. Since you will have a lot
of bumps to deal with, you'll have even more respect for the
stealthy little biting fly that inflicts so much itchiness out
of all proportion to its size. You will marvel at the loathing
and fear that something you can barely see, if you see it, will
generate in your human psyche. Hey...I respect the noseeum. Big
Below are some
interesting and useful facts that aren't in dispute....
The noseeum is actually a fly. There are 136 known
families of flies and the noseeum belongs to the family
The noseeum is also known as a biting midge. British
folks call them punkies. They are seen worldwide, mostly
in warmer climates. They don't suck....they bite.
Actually, they chew up a little place on your skin and,
much as the mosquito regurgitate a little spit to keep
everything flowing while they dine.
They range from 1/4 to 1/32 inch long. We seem to have
the smaller variety. They are so small that the only way
you can see them at a distance is thru the filtered forest
sunlight. They look like little specks of pocket lint
floating in the sun rays. They are so small that cleaned,
baked, and served with all the trimmings, it would take 2
to fill up the tummy of a gnat for his Sunday lunch after
church. They are so ridiculously tiny that they can fly right thru a
Elsewhere, noseeums serve a beneficial purpose. Again,
like the mosquito, only the female is a blood drinker. The
male contents himself with flower nectars. In Costa Rica,
they serve as pollinators of the rubber tree. As primary
pollinators, they also take care of business in respect to
the cacao bush too. So, in other words, without them, you
would have no way to drive to the candy store to purchase
chocolate which comes from cacao. Same for mangos. Most
southerners could do without mangos, but chocolate is a
In our area, much like fire ants and kudzu, noseeums
probably serve no good purpose, or at least one that could
be done just as well by something else. We were getting
along just fine before these things arrived, thank you
Some species of noseeums are not very nice. In South
America, at least one type carries life threatening
diseases. In Alabama some carry infections that can kill
deer and cattle, including hemorrhagic diseases, which can
turn an animal's innards into a soupy bloody mess. Sort of
the Ebola of the animal world. To date, at least, man is
safe from our local invaders in this respect. For cattle
and deer, the scientific description of the diseases are
.... Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) and bluetongue
(BT) viruses for white-tailed deer.
The absolute bane of
human existence where they thrive, the Noseeum is little
known in Calhoun County, Alabama. To know them is to not love them.
Many excellent lab quality specimens
have been found in 120 million
year old fossilized amber... So this
proves they are not the byproduct of unwise atomic testing.
Below is what scientists call a "Chigger
Click it for the latest chigger news...
Devil Insect From The Bad
There is a whole
lot of itching going on out there, and the wrong insects are
being blamed for it. Ready yourself for equal parts of conjecture
and fact regarding our newest woodland friends, noseeums.
Most outdoorsmen, ladies, and children are aware of the
perils of chiggers, ticks, and mosquitoes on forays into the
wilderness, but few know of the family Ceratopogonidae. I believe
they didn't exist here in and around Calhoun County, Alabama until
20 years or so ago. All I have is anecdotal evidence...I never got
bit by one before then.
I can remember my first experience in the Choccolocco
Wildlife Management area in Cleburne county. While exploring the
forest wilds of the region known only as "12 Deer" on my personal
map, I happened across a strange little spit of sand in a wet
weather spring. It is here, while looking for animal tracks that I
think I first encountered noseeums. Someone back then confidently
told me that I had ran afoul of something called sand fleas.
Some years later, much to my
consternation, they found me again about a mile away at a shooting
range. Then, later still, miles away, way up in a mountain lake, I
was swarmed. The common fact was that prior to 20 years or so ago,
I had never been host to the devilish creatures.
It may be of some interest to learn
that other noxious species of flora and fauna have found their way
to our area, where before, they weren't. Case in point is the fire
ant. It is known that the black fire ant first landed in Mobile in
1918, followed a couple of years later by the red fire ant. Both
types of ant are native to south America, and most likely were
deposited on our shore by unloading boats from across the big
Kudzu, the delightful green vine we're
so familiar with, arrived in America in 1876, a present from the
Japanese. It wasn't until the 1940's that it was used in the area
as a popular ground cover and animal feed.
So, armed with these facts, until
someone tells me differently, I believe our noseeum invasion is of
fairly late origin. For all my study on the subject, I can find
nothing to disabuse me of the notion. It probably came here in a
flower pot from down south. There is a not inconsiderable amount
study going on as regards noseeums. More than you would expect,
actually. There is much flyings,
seminaring, and spendings of your tax money by highly educated
college professors. Unfortunately, they don't tend to publish
much, and much of what they publish is about as practical, useful
and interesting as articles about sleet storms on the planet
Uranus. Also, even though worldwide, noseeums are a tremendous
problem, what is known is mostly generality, and even in this
there are good natured high brow conflicts.
Reprinted here courtesy:
The Internet Voice of Calhoun County, Alabama
Let's get real here. There are more than 5000
identified noseeum species, and this is admittedly only a fraction
of what exists.
Not enough blood and guts
for you? Would you like to study up on the other bane of the
woodsman's existence, the lovable chigger? Click the
chigger box on the left for the
latest Alabama Chigger news!