Dr. John D. Edman, retired entomologist shared a fascinating look at the “no see-um”. Edman’s background reflects an impressive career providing leadership and research throughout the world.  He retired in 2004 after a 40 year career of teaching, research and administration at the University of California at Davis, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory. Originally from Minnesota, Dr. Edman has been a member of the Entomological Society of America for over 50 years. He was Vice President and President of the American Mosquito Control Association and the recipient of their Medal of Honor. Edman has presented numerous invitational lectures internationally and is widely respected in many circles from medical and health organizations and the department of defense.

There are over 4,000 species worldwide of no-see ums – 50 of those species are found in South Carolina. No see ums are small with clear wings and little spots.  Only the females bite. Sugar is fuel for flight and survival.  Some biting midges feed on blood from other insects. Adults only live 1 to 2 weeks.  Our area has over 420,000 acres of salt marshes – that’s why they’re here.  They thrive in the soil.  How far do they travel?  Gnats travel approximately one mile from their salt marsh habitat sometimes further if carried by sea breezes. What attracts hungry no see-ums to their host?  CO2 particularly on your breath and heat movement are the attraction.  Are some people more reactive than others?  It is difficult to identify variables (they have not been able to colonize them in labs for study), but drinking alcohol is confirmed as part of the problem.  The impact of no see-ums is the biting annoyance, health and economics.
Dr. Edman ended his presentation sharing ideas for personal protection.  1. Avoid outdoor activities during peak biting periods. 2. Wear light colored protective clothing and netting. 3. Use #16 mesh screening. 4. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, Skin So Soft Lotion and Citronella help. 5. Large high speed fans work. 6. Yellow light bulbs help and turn off porch lights.  Save your money on zappers, trap out traps and devices.  They don’t work.  Don’t use a blend of sunscreen and repellant..  Repellant should be used less often than sunscreen.  Choose repellants with a minimum of 30% DEET for adults – 10% for kids.
A final question from the audience received a round of laughter:  Does the no see-um serve any purpose?   Answer: It prevents development in some areas, thus the economics of it all.