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Have you ever been itchy from an insect bite you haven't seen before? You may be a victim of no-see-um!

What are no-see-ums? As the name suggests, they are insects so small that they are hard to see. They are biting insects that feed on the blood of vertebrates or other insects. Can you use mosquito nets, screens or insect repellent to keep them from entering the house or biting you? What treatments or home remedies are effective against biting midges? Read on to find out where no one lives, why these bugs bite, and what to do about them.

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5 Unbelievable No-See Ums Facts!

No-see-ums may be annoying bugs, but they're also amazing animals.

  • There are more than 5,000 species of these insects, and they live all over the world except the polar regions. Some species are known from bugs preserved in amber fossils.
  • No see ums are holometabolous, which means they have a complete metamorphosis with four distinct life stages, just like butterflies. These include eggs, larvae, pupae, and mature adults or adults.
  • If you like chocolate, thank you and bye bye! Nectar is the main food source for all of these insects, but in some places they are the main pollinators of cocoa beans.
  • No see ums have a lifespan of up to six weeks. About 28 days are spent inside the egg.
  • These insects have specialized mouthparts designed for cutting skin. They also inject saliva under the skin, causing blood to pool there. This makes it easier for the insect to suck blood, but it can also cause an itchy allergic reaction!
No See Um (Ceratopogonidae). Biting flies, the females are blood-sucking insects.
No See Um (Ceratopogonidae) biting fly sitting on a plant. Females are blood-sucking insects.

©Maximillian cabinet/Shutterstock.com

Species, types and scientific names

These insects are commonly known as biting midges, midges, biting midges, sand flies, or sand fleas. They are a type of fly called Ceratopogonidae. Their superfamily is Chironomidae, Infraorder Culicomorpha. This suborder also includes mosquitoes. They belong to the suborders Linear and Diptera. Their classes are Insecta, insects; Arthropoda, invertebrates with exoskeletons; and the kingdom Animalia, animals.

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The family Ceratopogonidae has more than 5,000 species divided into many genera. The scientific name of each species consists of the genus and species name. Scientific names for some common species include:

  • Culicoides
  • Bezzia nobilis , which feeds on mosquito larvae.
  • Leptoconops torrens, native to California, USA.
  • Archiaustroconops besti is the oldest species, having existed for at least 142 million years.


These insects are small, generally between 1 and 3 millimeters in length. They are real insects. The nose has three body parts – head, thorax and abdomen – six legs and wings. They are usually black, brown or gray. Some have stripes. Like mosquitoes, females that feed on blood develop a translucent distended abdomen where you can see the blood inside.

Noseeum is distinguished from other small flies by a number of characteristics. They have hard structures called ossicles on their heads, and their mouthparts are specialized for cutting skin. Larvae of some species can be identified by their forelimbs.

No See Ums vs. Mosquito Key Differences Explained Cover Image
No See Ums have hard structures called ossicles on their heads, and their mouthparts are specifically designed to cut through the skin.

© auimeesri/Shutterstock.com


See ums cannot be found almost anywhere in the world. The only exceptions are the Arctic and Antarctic, where extreme temperatures are too cold for slugs to survive.


The diet of no see ums depends on the species, age and sex of the individual. Food sources may include nectar, animal blood, or insects.

What ate them?

Larger insects and birds may catch and eat no see ums. They are also preyed upon by carnivorous plants such as sticky penstemon or beardtongue.

Can't see um, a scotch midge sucking blood off a human arm.
Can't see um, a scotch midge sucking blood off a human arm.

© Jamierpc/Shutterstock.com

what do they eat

Baby no see ums, called larvae, are both aquatic and terrestrial. This means they spend time in the water and on land. Therefore, they often eat algae and fungi. They also need plenty of moisture to grow.

Similar to mosquitoes, both males and females of this species feed on nectar. In fact, nectar is their favorite food! In some tropical regions, ums are not seen as cocoa bean pollinators. However, this sweet liquid does not contain enough protein to help females lay eggs.

To make up for this deficiency, the females of most species feed on the blood of vertebrates. Their mouthparts are specially designed for cutting skin. This causes painful bites and itchy lesions on the host's skin.

Some species prey on other insects rather than human or animal blood. Interestingly, some species prey on mosquito larvae. At least one species eats only nectar.

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History and Evolution

No see ums and similar insects have evolved in such a way that they can survive by attacking their prey without notice. Their small size gives them an advantage in the wild, allowing them to feed and avoid detection where other similar blood-sucking insects might be shunned and have a harder time accessing their hosts.

Prevention: How to Get Rid of Them

Didn't see ums small enough to get through screens and some insect screens and thus enter the house. They can be repelled with repellents such as DEET, eucalyptus oil, icaridin, or picaridin. Pesticides and even specific bacteria have been used to control their numbers.

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about the author

heather ross

Heather Ross is a middle school English teacher and mother of 2 people, 2 tuxedo cats and a golden doodle. In between taking the kids to soccer practice and grading homework, she loves reading and writing about all things animals!

No See Ums FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How many legs does No See Ums have?

Can't see ums are real insects. Like all insects, they have exactly six legs.

How do you recognize without seeing Ums?

Can't see the ums look like little flies. They can be distinguished from other biting flies by their skin-cut mouthparts and bony fragments or sclerotic structures on their heads.

Hopeless love to travel in packs, and getting multiple bites is the surest way to identify a group of Hopeless.

What would No See Ums be drawn to?

No one is attracted to carbon dioxide, a gas exhaled by the creatures they bite. Sometimes, people use carbon dioxide to attract and destroy large numbers of unseen beings.

No long grass and no moving water sources such as puddles or pools in sight. At night, they may congregate around artificial lights. They're also drawn to their food source — their favorite nectar-producing plants or warm-blooded vertebrates.

How do you get rid of invisible people?

Getting rid of ideal habitat conditions can help get rid of invisible humans. Trim grass and bushes, and mulch or drain any standing water.

Didn't see ums have a lifespan of two to six weeks. Sometimes, pesticide poisons are used to disrupt this cycle and kill unseen. Historically, the insecticide DDT was used. Today, larvae are sometimes destroyed by a commercial preparation of a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis.

As mentioned earlier, repellants, or "insecticides," can be used to stop the anaphagia from landing on you and biting you. Screens and netting are often not effective in keeping these biting midges from entering the house.

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Where can I find Ums?

See ums cannot be found anywhere in the world. Only the icy Arctic and Antarctica are not invisible places. They may live in cities, rural areas, or wherever there is a source of moisture and food.

What time of day don't you see Ums come out?

No one likes warm weather, so most bites occur in the summer. But they can be found year-round in tropical and subtropical climates. They are most active at dawn and dusk.

Why can't I see Ums bite?

No see ums typically eat the nectar of plants, but females require extra protein in order to lay eggs. They get this protein from the blood of humans or other animals.

Is it dangerous not to look at Ums?

Like other blood-sucking insects, none can be vectors or carriers of disease. They have been known to carry Manson's worm, endemic hemorrhagic disease, arboviruses, bluetongue and African horse disease.

What would you do if you were bitten by someone you couldn't see?

A no see um bite begins as a small red spot and expands within a few days into a welt 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Since you don't see ums traveling in droves, you may be in for a bite. Several home remedies or remedies may help.

As soon as you notice a bite, wash it off immediately with soap and water or an antiseptic solution. This removes the invisible man's saliva and reduces your risk of infection.

Do not scratch the wound. Treat itching with an anti-itch cream or a cold compress to reduce itching and swelling. For home remedies, you can also heat water to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, dip a cotton swab in the water, and apply to the bite. Be careful not to burn yourself with the water being too hot!

If you find that you don't see bugs where you live, use insect repellent when you're outside to prevent bites.

What's the difference between mosquitoes and no-see-ums?

The key differences between invisible mosquitoes and mosquitoes include size, distribution, appearance, mouthparts, wings, and larval survival.

What's the difference between chiggers and no-see-ums?

Differences between no-see-ums and chiggers include size, appearance, lifespan, diet, habitat, classification, and reproduction.

What's the difference between pirate bugs and no-see-ums?

The key differences between pirate bugs and no-see-ums include appearance, lifespan, size, diet, life cycle, predators, body size, and habitat.

How are no-see-ums different from gnats?

Gnats and no-see-ums are both small flies of the family Ceratopogonidae, but no-see-ums are a special type of gnat. They vary in size, color, wings, diet and mouthparts.

Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the 10hunting.com editorial team.

  1. Wikipedia, available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratopogonidae
  2. Mosquito Nix, available here: https://mosquitonix.com/blogs/news/how-to-treat-no-see-um-bites
  3. The SWAT Mosquito System, available here: https://swatmosquitosystems.com/2019/02/what-exactly-is-a-no-see-um/