Living with No See Ums on Sanibel Island
If you have just moved to Sanibel Island you may have run into an unfortunate encounter with No See Um bugs. These pests can be pretty annoying to contend with when you are enjoying outdoor spaces on Sanibel especially as the sun is going down. It can be pretty discouraging to go out on the deck of your Sanibel home to enjoy the amazing outdoor atmosphere only to discover a million tiny red bumps all over the next morning.
What Are No See Ums?
No See Ums are extremely small insects that fly and can go unnoticed as they make their attack. They can be as tiny as a single grain of sand and often do not get any bigger than 3 mm. They can also be referred to as biting midges, biting gnats, moose flies, five-O's, sand fleas, punkies, and pinyon gnats.
A No See Um is a bloodsucking insect and among the smallest of known bloodsucking insects on the planet. They are commonly found in coastal lagoons, mangrove swamps, tidal flats, and estuaries, and most often in warm tropical climates. The state of Florida is known to have over 47 different species of biting midges.
Because Sanibel Island has 67% of its landmass protected as conservation land and the majority of the island is full of rich vegetation and humid tropical air that Florida is famous for. This makes it a favorite dwelling place for No See Um bugs. They love a home with plenty of plant life and water.
When to be aware of a possible No See Um bite
No See Um bugs are more active during rainy weather and as the sun is going down or before it comes up. They are pretty much present all year long on the island but there are times of day when the No See Um's retreat into cooler places to get away from the sun. During a typical sunny day in the middle of the day when the sun is the warmest No See Ums will find a shady spot to hang out in as being out in the full heat of the sun is more than these bugs can take.
Hanging out on the beach on a sunny day is not problematic for Sanibel Island Beach lovers but in cooler weather and traipsing through vegetation in the shade can bring you into contact with these bloodsucking pests.
How to help prevent No See Um bites
If you live on Sanibel Island you don't want to be regulated to only enjoying outdoor spaces on this amazing island at a certain time of day. Just like being aware of mosquitoes, there are ways to be aware of when No See Ums are out and how to prevent being bitten.
The key to preventing these bloodsucking insects from biting is early intervention. Waiting until you already notice bites means it's too late. One strategy is to make sure you are wearing clothing that covers up as much exposed skin as possible when you are in a position of a possible encounter with No See Um bugs. While this doesn't seem very pleasant in warm weather there is some special sun clothing that is very breathable and limits skin exposure. But not everybody is willing to pay out the extra money or wants to put on extra clothing when the weather is warm.
There are some oils that you can rub into your skin to help deter No See Ums and keep them from biting you. They do help to reduce exposure but they are not completely foolproof in preventing biting. One of the most effective oils according to Sanibel Island locals is coconut oil. The oil creates a barrier on the skin and the bugs tend to get trapped and have trouble actually biting the skin.
A recent study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture has also backed up this strategy saying that coconut oil and products derived from it have been more effective than DEET products at repelling bloodsucking insects. It is good to note that rubbing oil on your skin however will increase your likelihood of sunburn so this method should be used carefully and only at certain times during the day.
No See Um repelling products
There are some actual products with the focus of preventing No See Um bites that you can purchase. Some of them are made with all-natural ingredients. Often these are a blend of essential oils which have been shown to deter the pesky bugs because they do not like certain smells.
Two local restaurant owners have made one of the most successful and widely used repellents it is called Bodyguard Ultimate No See Um Defense. It was created by Elke and Brian Podlasek who own the Island Cow Restaurant. It is a blend of natural oils that includes coconut and mineral oils along with lemongrass essential oil and jojoba oils. The concoction also contains Neem oil which is taken from the seeds of the neem tree and found to be a naturally occurring pesticide. It is very safe to use and you can even spray it on your furry family members as well as the human ones.
Living on Sanibel Island truly is a dream there is no other destination like it but with all of the tropical beauty comes some varied wildlife and some of it is not always human-friendly. Knowing how to deal with the No See Ums when you live on the island is a helpful tool for enjoying outdoor spaces.
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