Sand Flies or Biting Flies (Not the same as Sand Fleas)
Also known as biting midges, sand flies are a family of insects that are scientifically known as Culiocoides. There are hundreds of species of sand flies that can be found all over the world.
The biting flies you find around wetlands in the US are mostly Ceratopogonidae (biting midges or no-see-ums) and not in the same insect family as Plebotominae (sand flies), which are found in the southern states and tropics. A lot of people who get bit by sand flies often mistakenly call them sand fleas. The biggest way to tell a difference between a sand flea and biting flies is that the fleas are crustaceans that can only hop, while sand flies can fly and bite you anywhere on your body. Sand flies are known to cause infections such as tungiasis, diseases such as Carrions disease, Pappataci fever virus and Leishmaniasis.
In some cases people can often mistaken bites from sand flies as bed bugs. If you are seeing red bites all over your body, it might not be bed bugs, you could have sand midges near your home that are biting you. If you suspect you have bed bugs in your home, it is important that you can locate them before you decide to take action.
Where to Find Biting Flies
Though they are not always seen in the United States, sand flies can be quite common in the Caribbean. It is those people who have visited the Caribbean and returning home, who are carriers of potential diseases from sand flies. As they are common in the coastal areas, they can also be found in rotting vegetables, creeks, pools and the like. These eggs can hatch in as much as 4 to 5 days with the larvae feeding on small aquatic animals.
Biting flies are often bred in wet areas near tidal zones such as mangrove mud or sandy shore lines. The insects are an important aspect of the overall estuary of tidal marshes or mangroves as a whole. These insects are often attracted to human activity and you can often find them resting on human screens and homes while they are waiting for their next blood meal.
Because of their small size, sand flies prefer to go out an look for meals on days that have little wind and high humidity. If it is a windy day you are less likely to encounter biting flies because they can be blown about quite easily by the wind. There hasn’t been an effective treatment that exists to prevent sand flies from breeding and searching for their next “blood meal.” It is important to try and avoid specific areas that are known to have a high concentration of biting midges or sand flies.
As Sand flies doubles up in number during spring, they tend to live on wooden furniture aside from beds in our homes. And thus leads to endless bites from these fleas. However, these Sand Flies can still be kept at bay with the help of regular usage of insect repellants similar to those used against mosquitoes.
Why are Sand Flies So Unpleasant?
One of the main reasons why Sand flies are more problematic than mosquitoes is that they anatomy of their feeding mechanisms means that they will leave large marks on the skin of the victims they bite. Persons who are repeatedly bitten and exposed to sand flies can often suffer from allergic reactions because of the allergens that exist in their saliva. Although sand flies can transmit diseases, it is unlikely that they will.
It is quite common for humans to have more interaction with sand flies when there is a residential development positioned near areas that have sand fly breeding grounds. The increased interaction between humans and sand flies can often become problematic.
How Do I Know That I’ve been bitten?
A Sand Fly bite can be seen as a little red spot or bump on the skin. As they are known to spread infections like mosquitoes, it is important that treatment must be taken. Like parasites, they attach themselves to their host, piercing into the skin and feeds off the blood of the host. The female Sand Fleas are most dangerous compared to the males and they do not die right after mating.
How To Reduce Biting Fly Annoyance
Ensure your home has mesh screens – If you notice that the biting flies are getting through the current screens you have around your home, get smaller ones. Smaller screen sizes will deter the flies from entering your home. You can also spray non toxic surface on the screens that will further prevent them from entering your home.
Reduce vegetation around the home – If you can reduce the amount of vegetation you have around your house to a minimum, it will help reduce the amount of biting flies that bite you. Flies can often hide in areas that have plants or other vegetation. By removing the vegetation, you can effectively remove some of their hiding places.
Use Ceiling and Stationary fans in your home – You can often prevent biting flies from biting by having a fan on you at all times. The air from the fan will often discourage biting flies from biting because they are small in size.
Use Mosquito Coils or Plugs – If you are constantly being harassed every time you leave your front porch consider putting a mosquito plug or coil near the entrance. The small will deter the midges from hovering around you home when you leave or enter it.
Avoid watering or washing during morning and night – Similar to mosquitoes biting flies are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. Avoid doing activities around the home during these problematic periods.
Wear Long Sleeve Clothing – Covering up your skin is a common sense way to ensure that you don’t get bit by biting flies. Always make sure you are using clothing that can give you the best protection when it comes to the flies.
Removing Sand Flies or Biting Flies from Homes
Removing these insects from our homes can be a tedious job, but a necessary one if you want to rid of them as soon as possible especially in the warm weathers. The bed linens and blankets would need to be attended to by having it washed with a lot of soap and water. The mattresses as well as furniture will have to be sprayed with a generous dose of pesticide. Keep doing so, until you are confident that the Biting flies have been eradicated. As carpets are the ideal breeding ground for these parasites, it would be best to have it thoroughly disinfected and vacuumed each day. Make sure that these carpets and rugs have been cleared off from any eggs left behind.
As for pets, be sure to get them treated as well. These flies are like dog fleas though worse in the bites and infections. They can live off your pet’s body and then move on to you. Be sure to treat your dogs with flea treatments available for pets. Disinfect the kennel, or bedding and the areas where your pet enjoys snuggling in. This helps in reducing and preventing any stray Sand Flies that are near your home.
It’s best to be kept safe than to risk getting bitten.