Out weeding one evening after sunset, I felt something rather unfriendly bite me in the face. Didn’t see anything flying around though. The next morning when I woke up my eye was painful and swollen almost shut. Went to the doctor, and he considered it thoughtfully. We discussed the possibilities: mosquito bite (had those…not this bad), bee or wasp sting (had those, those are worse), poison oak (I’m an expert, and this wasn’t it). Finally he decided I must have been bitten by a No See Um.
But how would I ever know for sure it was a No See Um, having never seen ‘em? Do these alleged creatures even really exist? Is this some kind of unicorn of the insect world? These questions required a quick trip to Google. Here’s what I found:
Grab your magnifying glass and wipe the dust from your screen—here is photograph of an actual no-see-um:
“No-see-ums are tiny biting flies also called Biting Midges that often live near water.
You often see many of them swarming together in a cloud. Biting midges are called no-see-ums because they’re so tiny that it is hard to see ‘um.
They often stay in shrubs or the thick layer of dead leaves that naturally covers the ground. Scrubbing your feet around in the leaves is a good way to get them stirred up. Don’t do it! Most no-see-ums never fly more than 350 feet from their breeding area, so if they’re bothering you, you might be able to get away from them by moving a few yards
Only the females bite and suck blood. They need the protein in this blood to make their eggs. No-see-ums will take blood from mammals, birds, and reptiles. Male no-see-ums are nectar feeders and do not bite. While the bite is not painful, it becomes very itchy. Some people get a red spot 1-2 inches wide! Try not to scratch the bites; it makes them itch longer and can make the bites get infected. No-see-um larvae (babies) can be found in water, mud, or moist dead leaves. They especially like to live in the dying plants along the edge of a salt marsh. The larvae eat dead plant and animal matter.”
So that’s it! The doctor was right. It was biting midget. It’s because I’m tall—they hate me because I’m tall. First I look like a dork dancing with all those cute, short guys in junior high, and now I suffer again by being attacked by biting midgets. Lovely.