Truth be told, it’s not uncommon to know that little things sometimes make an enormous impact.
Little things that one cannot see – yet have the power to bite and leave a mark, not only make an enormous impact, they aggravate the heck out of those whom they surround. They can ruin picnics, strolls along the beach, playdays at the park, and well, pretty much any outside vacation or excursion.
For residents of Vero Beach, outside activities during the summer are aplenty, and many of those happenings often involve some source of water. Be it the beach, lake, backyard pool BBQ’s, or fishing along the banks of creeks and marshes around the area, everyone has an outdoor activity during the summer that they thoroughly enjoy.
Floridians call them ‘noseeums,’ Georgians call them ‘sandgnats,’ and they are given a fancy scientific name that is too difficult to remember (‘culicoides,’ in case you were wondering). These teeny tiny pests are less than two millimeters in size, smaller than a mosquito, flea, or lice. They are nasty, they’re annoying, and they really have no positive purpose to our environment. They’re essentially the narcissists of the insect world. They are pesky, intentional, and even some nettings cannot keep them from weaseling their way through to feast on what they want.
And despite what one might think, they cannot be ‘sprayed’ for as mosquitos are in this county, according to Director Doug Carlson of the Indian River County Mosquito District.
“Noseeums are just something that mosquito districts can’t control,” Carlson stated. While the county maintains systems for preventative pest control across our area, treating for them with larvacides by air distribution is not an option.
The IRC Mosquito District, which is the first district of its kind to form in Florida back in 1925, regularly gets calls for swarms of mosquitos and sometimes noseeums.
That little yellow plane that so many often see flying low and intentional with its path, is a crop dusting-type plane that’s spreading small larvacide granules over problematic areas. While many residents in the city assume that the plane is “spraying” as in a liquid substance, they are not. According to Carlson, a spray would not be able to get through the natural vegetation and other obstacles that are in the way of where mosquitos are swarming and nesting.
While Florida in general is a nesting ground for noseeums and mosquitos, areas that are coastal in nature, as Vero Beach is, are often an area of prevalence for the little buggers.
According to their website, the IRC Mosquito District manages 4,500 acres of coastal mangrove swamps and salt marshes to stop mosquitoes by lessening available exposed mud for egg-laying during the hot summer months. The district uses an ecosystem management approach for saltmarsh mosquito control, following adaptive strategies based on biological and chemical research. Through their strategic methods of flooding and then draining these areas, pesky mosquitos and sandflies are prevented from nesting so readily.
Research Entomologist Michael Hudon urges residents to be informed about how they can protect themselves from the nuisances of both noseeums (also called ‘biting midges’) and mosquitos. Especially, Hudon commented, because “the rains will be here soon to make up for the 20-inch deficit.”
Some facts and tips that might be helpful:
- Some noseeum species can carry dangerous germs that cause disease in people or animals.
- There are more than 1,000 different species of noseeums around the world. In Florida, there are over 50 different species.
- Believe it or not, noseeums do not typically bite people. They prefer to bite animals and birds. The females are the ones that seek blood hosts, for the purpose of fueling egg production when impregnated. The males, they prefer nectars or sweet-tasting juices.
- Noseeum larvae look like tiny worms, without legs or wings. They can complete their development in just a few days or take up to 28 days.
- Most noseeum larvae live in muddy areas or on the edges of marshes, ponds, puddles, or streams, and some can be found in the moist rot-holes of living trees and water-ridden areas in pastures on farms.
- Noseeum larvae do not occur in open water.
- To protect yourself from these little narcs, experts advise to wear long sleeves and cover up as much as possible.
- If you’re hosting a backyard gathering or enjoying a picnic on the beach and you find yourself swatting aimlessly around yourself at what might look like nothing to the bystander from afar, try setting up a fan nearby. Noseeums cannot withstand much wind, and a fan is an excellent deterrent.
- A variety of repellants are available for purchase at local stores.
Both Carlson and Hudon with the IRC Mosquito District urge that covering your skin up as much as possible is the best line of defense against noseeums.
For additional information on mosquitos or noseeums, visit the district’s website, http://fresh.irmosquito.com/index.php.
The IRMCD office is located at 5655 41st Street. The District can be reached at 772-562-2393 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.