25 Sep 2018
This post will address a small but very big concern.
Those who travel to Sanibel have alluded to tiny biting flies that often live near water. They are so tiny, they are not generally visible and hence their appropriate name, no-see-ums. Much like the mosquito only the females bite because they require the proteins from blood to make their eggs. The no-see-ums are common not only on Sanibel, but in the Caribbean and any, tropical body of land where there is water nearby.
Sometimes our vacation rental guests ask if traveling in Winter is a way to avoid these pests, and we have to be honest and say the bigger factor in avoiding no-see-ums is not time of year, but time of day and strength of breeze. No-see-ums are worse at dawn and dusk and when the air is still.
There are several preventative measures to avoid getting bit in the first place. The first is to wear long sleeves, long pants, gloves, shoes and socks. Beside the fact that when you stroll along the beaches of Southwest Florida you would look like an idiot, the no-see-ums would elect to go for your exposed face. The chemical DEET, which is also effective for mosquitoes, in a concentration of at least 30 percent, seems to help. Another local preventative is applying the beauty product, Skin So Soft (or any Baby Oil), which effectively traps the no-see-um in the oil, thereby preventing them from being able to bite in the first place. Whatever you decide, be very careful not to use sun screen and DEET together as it both increases the absorption of the DEET into the person’s bloodstream (which isn't good!) and breaks down the protective ingredients in sun screen, rendering it ineffective. You effectively kill two birds with one stone, and that stone ends up endangering yourself as well. Never mix these two chemicals.
For people who want to avoid the use of chemicals, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) also recommends the use of oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is almost as effective as DEET. Consumer Reports recommend a product called Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, which does contain a minute amount of biochemical pesticide but is far less toxic than DEET.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to prevent getting bit by no-see-ums is wind. A ceiling fan, small house fan or an afternoon breeze will suffice to keep down the no-see-ums since they are so tiny that almost any breeze (natural or otherwise) keeps them from getting aloft. No-see-ums are so very tiny, they can even get into screened lanais.
Some folks are just lucky and their chemistry is not attractive to these biters at all. One person in a couple can get several bites and the other none what so ever.
If you don't know how appealing you may be, just take all the precautions and you should be just fine.
Visit Sanibel Holiday vacations to book your next trip, to put these to the test.