The Biting Truth of



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Biting Midges,""no-see-ums," "punkies," or "sand flies" - They are very small flies (about 1/25-1/10) inch long whose small but bladelike mouthparts make a painful wound out of proportion to its tiny size. Welts and lesions from the bite may last for days. The larvae of various species breed in a wide variety of damp or wet places high in organic matter. Most are attracted to lights. One vicious biter breeds along the Atlantic coast in salt marshes and wet soil. Another species, found in mountainous areas, feeds in the evening and night hours and is small enough to pass through ordinary screens. These are important pests along coastal and mountainous areas and can seriously interfere with outdoor activities. This was obtained from the site at:


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The following article was found in the Augusta Chronicle

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- The tiny bugs with the nasty bite are back.

Springtime is sand gnat season along Georgia's coast, where residents try everything from oily sprays to munching garlic to keep the bugs at bay.

``They'll drive you crazy. You'll sit there, at your kid's baseball game or something, and end up swallowing half a dozen,'' said Charles Lott, owner of the City Drug Store in Brunswick. ``It's like a toothache. It's always there.''

Twice a year, the winged pests breed in salt marshes along the coast, their rapid mating cycle rendering insecticides almost useless.

Luckily for coastal residents, the weather provides a great deal of gnat control. A modest wind can scatter a swarm of the winged pests and they only accumulate when the temperature hovers near 70 degrees.

``Sand gnats can't tolerate the summer heat or winter cold,'' said Cliff McGowan of the Glynn County Mosquito Control Department. ``But they become a nuisance for about six weeks during the spring and fall.''

Georgians have devised a variety of home remedies to beat the bugs during gnat season. Some eat garlic. Others drink vinegar, rub their skin with fabric softener or set fire to wet material to repel the gnats with smoke.

Many buy their gnat relief from the Avon lady in the form of an oily spray called Skin So Soft. Mr. Lott orders at least 50 bottles of the skin softener a year to sell to his customers.

Those who do nothing will find the bloodsucking gnat has a surprisingly big bite.

``If you get stuck outside without protection for any appreciable amount of time, you'll look like you've got measles,'' Mr. Lott said. ``You'll have little bites all over you.''

Gnats are attracted to the carbon dioxide humans exhale in their breath, said Bob Boland, an extension agent for the University of Georgia. The bugs are also drawn to nectar from plants such as blueberries, salt myrtle, Yaupon Holly and Arum.

Researchers have been searching since 1974 for a better form of gnat control. Currently, they're looking at ways to lure the bugs to an area where they could be captured by high-tech trapping equipment.

Two discussions about the critters appeared on the DVC Information Board. Here are some of the comments the users had on the No-See-Ums:

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