Every now and again in Sedona, I have to be reminded that I am not living in Paradise. Lately we have had much needed, life-giving rain, the hills and valleys are beautifully green, even a lotus blossom has appeared in our Sedona Community Center fountain. And then, it happened. I walked through some of that lush emerald grass and the next thing I knew, I was scratching up a storm. I didn’t have to ask—I knew I had been attacked by what is commonly called ‘No See-Ums’.
No See-Ums in Arizona are also called Biting Midges, or Ceratopogonidae, if you want to get technical. Experts say that their usual fare is nectar but when it comes time to lay eggs the female decides she needs a little blood in the process and humans, as well as animals, will do. The resulting aggravating itch comes from the insect’s saliva that is injected just under the skin, causing the welt. No See-Ums live up to their name—at 1-3 mm in length you probably will not see them, but you will feel them. The vicious little insects are skilled at slipping up clothing and can bite through panty hose or other thin stockings. Most bites will dissipate after a day or less, but some folks who are extra sensitive may suffer for as long as two weeks. Fortunately, our local variety is not known to transmit disease or parasites as can occur in tropical regions.
An article by Kathy Garvey quotes Lynn Kimsey, scientist and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology as cautioning people “not to scratch the welts, as scratching makes the itchy bites last twice as long and can lead to infected sores.” She also adds, “Repellents aren’t effective against these flies.”
Contrary to the scientist’s assertion, there are a few home and manufactured remedies that one can find on the web and elsewhere that claim to fend off these tiny biters. Commonly reported repellents are:
- Repellents with at least 20% DEET that is made for skin usage
- Avon Skin-So-Soft
- Fabric-softener sheets, rubbed on your skin and carried in your pocket
- Baby oil, vanilla extract, or apple cider vinegar applied to skin
While I cannot verify the effectiveness of any of these products, they may be worth a try if you know you will be out and about in the gorgeous verdant out-of-doors in Sedona. On the other hand, for a No See-Um-free-environment, you are invited to visit your local Sedona Community Center. We have a wealth of great classes and events, and lunch at the Center or delivered to your home for eligible Sedona or Village of Oak Creek residents. We are excited to offer the ‘Proven Brain Activities for Living Younger’ class starting this month each Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The popular Wiggle and Giggle class is also returning on Tuesday, August 15th and we can’t wait to have Michelle and her energetic group back with us. You are invited to check out our monthly calendar and menu to see what activities, events, or daily cuisine might interest you at www.sccsedona.org or visit us at 2615 Melody Lane.