No See’ums: INvisible nightmares

Wow, what a dramatic title. But it seems to apply to a recent situation that I was in. Storytime for everyone (*cue the light music*): my wife and I recently went with our church on a mission trip to the country of Belize. We ran what was essentially vacation bible school and completed construction on some buildings in local villages in the east side of the country. Our entire group was around 60 people and to accommodate a group that size, we stayed at a very nice Belizean resort. The local villages where we were working could not handle a group as large as ours and honestly, didn’t have the resources to sustain us. Our rooms at this nice resort had sliding doors out to a balcony (fancy, right???). Beside each of the doors was a small sign that said, “Keep door closed to prevent the spread of No See’ums”. Naturally, we looked up what a No See’um was. Essentially, they are small, blood-sucking bugs, barely visible to the eye that live in areas with vegetation and stagnant water. Ok cool, we’ll just keep our door shut. While working during the week, ourselves and others in our group would get bites from working outside all day. No surprise there: it was 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit + 80% humidity every day near the jungles of Central America. After a very rewarding and successful week, our group packed up our suitcases and headed back to the States.

Fast forward two days now. My wife and I have arrived back at our house and our luggage is in the laundry room where my wife is doing the laundry. All of a sudden, she notices that she’s getting more bite marks on her legs. In a span of two days, my wife went from 4 total bite marks on her legs to over 60. I had been bitten more in Belize than her (started at a higher number), but after two days at home, had close to 100 bites on my body. We had no idea what was happening! Had some sand fleas burrowed in our skin and were coming out at night and biting us (think “Alien”)? Did we have mosquitos in our houses that we hadn’t identified. NOPE. Turns out, we had brought home No See’ums with us in our luggage (*sad trombone noise*). Our luggage had been in our house for two days while wifey continued laundry, and it wasn’t until we realized there was a problem that we moved the luggage outside. Here’s a fun fact about No See’ums: the females are the primary “biters”, and they bite in order to reproduce. So the hundreds of bite marks = hundreds of baby No See’ums. WELP. Oh, and I forgot to mention, we never were able to see these little terrors (hence the name I guess). And their bites itch more than a mosquito bite (actually scientifically supported, not just my opinion). After another day at the house, wifey and I left and went to go stay with some family to get away from these awful bugs (we did leave out some vinegar traps to hopefully catch them while we were gone). We looked like a couple of lepers running out the front door.

Shockingly, a few of the No See’ums traveled with us (even though we packed new clothes, put on clean clothes before leaving, etc). At this point, I was planning to fumigate our infested house and wifey is about at the point of burning it down. She in particular was just absolutely miserable (imagine 100 super itchy mosquito bites all over)! And our safe space, our home, was no longer safe. We stayed with family a few more days, and although the occasional new bite would show up, we were able to heal our old wounds. Our mindset turned from defensive to offensive. We went to the local Home Depot and bought anything that claimed to kill mosquitos (and one blacklight machine that even claimed to kill No See’ums!). We ordered anything we could find online that advertised that it would deter these buggers. And we showed up to the house, four days later, ready for war.

Turns out, the vinegar traps took care of most of the No See’ums while we were gone. And I think just being out of the house helped as well (no food source for reproduction). We explored a lot of different things during this week and found the below works vs doesn’t work:

Works: Essential Oils (specifically mint, lavender, eucalyptus)

Doesn’t Work: Citronella Soap/Candles

Works: Vinegar Traps (Vinegar with a tbsp of dish soap in it)

Doesn’t Work: Bug Spray

Works: Black Light No See’um traps

Doesn’t Work: Staying in a house infested with No See’ums

Works: Pyrid Aerosol (https://www.solutionsstores.com/pyrid-aerosol-insecticide)

Doesn’t work: Covering your bed with a mosquito net (we didn’t actually try lol)

In the end, we ridded our house of the No See’ums and learned a very valuable lesson: No See’ums are the worst.

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