No-see-ums Facts & Information
Protect your home or business from no-see-ums by learning techniques for identification and control.
How do I get rid of no-see-ums?
What Orkin Does
Insect repellents that contain essential oils like lemon, eucalyptus, mint, camphor, and picaridin are known for repelling no-see-ums. Be sure to apply repellent to exposed skin and carefully follow the directions for how to use any repellent product. Precaution – make sure that whatever repellent used on children has an approval statement on the product label. Always get approval from your doctor before using any repellent on children.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
What do no-see-ums look like?
Adult no-see-ums are gray, small, barely visible, and less than 1/16 inch long. Their two wings are covered with dense hairs that create pigmented patterns. They have large compound eyes and 5-segmented antennae. They’re named after their small size since no-see-ums usually bite before they are seen.
No-see-ums Life Cycle
No-see-ums, also called biting midges, go through a complete metamorphosis that includes egg, larvae, pupae, and adult stages. The complete cycle takes from 2-6 weeks, depending on the species and environmental conditions.
Females require blood for their eggs to mature. Some species of no-see-ums may produce the first batch of viable eggs without a blood meal using reserves stored from the larval period. However, blood meals are required for subsequent batches of eggs. The number of eggs produced varies by species as does the volume of a bloodmeal.
Larvae require water and cannot develop without moisture. Larvae are present in and around the salt marsh and mangrove swamps, on shores of streams and ponds, and in muddy substrates. Other habitats include mud, sand, and debris at the edges of ponds, lakes, springs, tree holes, and even wet, manure-contaminated areas. They feed on small organisms. Most larval state species cannot exist more than a few inches below the water’s surface. The larval stage can last from two weeks to a year, depending on the species, temperatures, and geographic area.
The pupal stage following the larvae stage of no-see-ums is short - typically lasting only two to three days.
Adults live only a few weeks under natural conditions. Males typically emerge before the females and are ready to mate when the female emerges from the pupal stage. Mating typically occurs in flight when females fly into swarms of males. The number of eggs produced varies by species and the size of bloodmeal consumed by the female.
What do no-see-ums eat?
Biting midge larvae consume decaying organic matter in mud, intertidal sand, or wet soil around water holes and seepage areas. Along the coast, decaying seaweed that is tossed up onto beaches after storms present an ideal breeding habitat. No-see-ums adults feed on liquid substances such as plant juices, insect body fluids, and human and animal blood.
Where do no-see-ums live?
The natural habitats of no-see-ums vary by species. Also known as sand flies, no-see-ums are most prevalent in the coastal areas of Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. These flies breed in coastal salt marshes, mud-caked flatlands, freshwater areas, and damp holes in trees. Breeding places are often in densely shaded areas at the edge of grass marshes. Their favorite locations are near decaying leaves that are protected from the heat of the sun.