How to Get Rid of No-See-Ums

 No-See-Ums repellent

No-See-Ums are tiny, biting insects that can be a plague to many communities. Particularly prevalent in coastal areas, No-See-Ums are often just as much of a pest as mosquitoes. They can ruin outdoor get-togethers, make a round of golf intolerable and devastate your vacation plans.


Like mosquitoes, No-See-Ums lay their eggs in moist areas and upon maturation, they take flight. Both males and females consume nectar and other sweet-tasting juices for nourishment. Females, however, will also seek out a blood meal to fuel egg production. Female No-See-Ums will bite humans, pets, livestock, wild animals and birds.

With her need for blood satisfied, the impregnated female will seek out an appropriate place to lay her eggs, which can include water-retaining hollows in trees, muddy water, wet sand and other similar areas. About 28 days later, adult No-See-Ums emerge and the cycle begins again.


What do No-See-Ums look like?

No-See-Ums are insects from the Ceratopogonidae family that can inflict painful bites. They are very tiny – only 0.03 inches long – and difficult to see, hence the name. If you do get a close look at them, they look like very small houseflies. It’s easy to mistake one (or a swarm of them) for specks of dirt or lint. People call them a variety of names, including sand flies, gnats and biting midges.


When a female No-See-Um bites, the female will inject her saliva under the skin. This causes blood to pool near the skin’s surface. A small red splotch develops on the skin and becomes terribly itchy.  Bites often transform into welts that grow into a larger, discolored area up to 2 inches in diameter.

Prevent No-See-Um bites
No-see-um bites are often incredibly itchy


No-See-Ums can be more difficult to get rid of than mosquitoes. They are smaller than mosquitoes and more agile fliers. Over the years, people have developed a variety of ways to get rid of them or, at the very least, keep them away. Here are some of the most common methods, some of which are actually not effective:

  1. Utilize CO2 Mosquito Traps – Highly Effective
  2. Install Small Mesh Window Screens -- Effective
  3. Run Air Conditioning to Protect Home Interiors -- Effective
  4. Wear Body-covering Clothing -- Effective
  5. Apply DEET Repellents – Barely Effective
  6. Avoiding No-See-Um-producing Areas – Barely Effective
  7. Kill Them With Insect Sprays, Mists and Fogs – Not Effective
Small-mesh screens can keep No-See-Ums from entering your house
Small-mesh window screen can stop no-see-ums

CO2 Mosquito Traps for No-See-Ums – Since No-See-Ums track people the same way that mosquitoes do, CO2 mosquito traps, like those available from Mosquito Magnet®, are highly effective at controlling a No-See-Um population. These traps exude an attractant that draws the bugs nearby. When they fly close enough, a vacuum sucks them into a net where they dehydrate and die. No-See-Ums (and mosquitoes) are not strong enough fliers to escape the vacuum.

Small-Mesh Screens – No-See-Ums are tiny. Really, really tiny! They are about as small as the point on a sharpened pencil. Another comparison is to take a dime and flip it to its “tails” side. There you’ll see the words “One Dime” – No-See-Ums are smaller than the capitol “D.” Since they are so small, No-See-Ums can easily wriggle through normal window screens (known as US 16 Standard Mesh). To protect against them, swap that for small-mesh screens that have a tighter weave.

Air Conditioning – For biting midge control inside your home, try cranking up your AC. These bugs can’t tolerate cold temperatures and low humidity. You’ll likely see an increase in your electricity bill, but at least you won’t get bitten while you sleep!

Clothing Choices – Long sleeve shirts, pants and tall socks can reduce the surface area on your body that No-See-Ums can bite. Further protection includes a hat with No-See-Um netting and applying repellent to remaining exposed areas.

Repellents – There’s quite a bit of debate about whether DEET and other chemical repellents really protect against No-See-Ums. The best advice is to buy DEET labeled for use against No-See-Ums (or any of their other common names, including sand flies, biting midges, gnats and so on) and use the repellent exactly as directed on the label. Many people think they understand how to apply DEET, but do so incorrectly and leave themselves vulnerable to insect bites.

Before You Buy or Go on Vacation – Before you buy a home (or vacation home) in an area that has the potential for supporting No-See-Ums, consult maps and other data. If it’s evident that a No-See-Um-producing habitat is nearby, seriously reconsider your purchase. Vacationers can do the same – check reports for No-See-Um issues and avoid those areas.

Insecticide Spraying – After thorough research, it was determined that large-scale spraying for No-See-Ums is generally ineffective. Sprays will eliminate the adult No-See-Um population for a few days, but newly pupated No-See-Ums quickly replace those killed by the insecticide.

No-See-Ums can't survive long in air conditioning.
No-see-ums avoide low humidity environments


Are you in a pitched battle against the No-See-Ums in your yard or place of business? Mosquito Magnet® wants to hear your story! Visit Mosquito Magnet® on Facebook and tell us all about it. You will also have a chance to learn even more about mosquito and No-See-Um control.

Looking for help with your Mosquito Magnet® purchase? Sign up for our E-Newsletter and you’ll get a helpful trap tips as well as guidance on how to manage the biting insect problem on your property.

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