Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Keep No-See-Ums away

I have experienced numerous trips to the low country that have unfortunately been met with the occasional visit of the no-see-ums. These little tiny gnat size invaders usually aggregate in the tropical and subtropical coastal areas. Whether hanging out at the beach, golf course, fishing the marshes, or just relaxing on the patio, these invaders are sure to find you. One of my worst experiences with no- see- ums was a few years back as I was fishing off a pier on one of the Kiawah ponds and I was attacked by a swarm of these biters. I had several bites on my arms and ankles that seemed to itch incessantly long after getting bit.

No –see- ums seems to be the prevailing name for these pests. They do go by other names such as biting midges or sand fleas. Regardless of how you identify them, they can ruin a good time very quickly. The best way to combat these little buggers is to build a defense against them. Here are some recommended ways to keep them away.

People seem to be divided on the safety issues and cost/benefit of using pest prevention products containing DEET. I recall several decades ago my parents lining up my brothers and I and giving us a good spray down with mosquito repellent when we played outdoors in the summer. Times have not changed for me as I still use this product. Repellents containing at least 30% DEET are effective against warding these pests away. The stronger the DEET percentages (e.g. Deep Woods Off), the more effective is the defense. I don’t get too hung up on the DEET skin exposure as I take a shower immediately after coming in doors to rinse off the chemical. Also keep in mind that DEET should not be used in combination with sunscreens as the chemical interaction will lower the protection abilities of the sunscreen and also allow the DEET to quickly absorb into the skin.

Avon Products against no-see-ums
The rumor of the south is that Avon Skin So Soft is an effective barrier against biting midges. I have not put this theory to the test. I would be willing to give this one a try next time I head down to the South Carolina as this solutions seems more a healthier alternative to using DEET related products.

Other Defenses against no-see-ums
These little buggers are so annoying sometimes it is best to avoid them totally and stay indoors if they seem to be swarming everywhere outdoors. Biting midges are most prevalent at dawn and dusk. They are so tiny they have the ability to squeeze through screen doors which makes even a relaxing night on the porch impossibility. If you have things to do outside and the weather is not too hot, one of the best defenses is simply covering exposed skin by wearing pants instead of shorts. Cover the feet with socks and wear a long sleeve t-shirt.

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