How to Get Rid of No-See-Ums for Good in Just 8 Steps
No-see-ums are an irritating nuisance both indoors and out. But how does one deal with a barely visible pest? Here’s how to get rid of no- see-ums.
When the weather gets warmer, no-see-ums can be found outdoors—and sometimes indoors, too. Despite being almost microscopic, no-see-ums will quickly make their presence known primarily by leaving itchy bites that can turn into painful welts.
Also referred to as biting midges, biting gnats, or sand flies, no-see-ums can be quite a nuisance, but measures can be taken to eradicate them from a property and prevent them from coming back. Here’s what to know about how to get rid of no-see-ums.
Time required: A couple of months to fully eradicate an infestation, as treatment is reapplied every 3 weeks
What are no-see-ums, and what do they look like?
Similar to mosquitoes (though smaller), no-see-ums are bloodsucking pests that lay eggs in moist, warm areas and bite humans, pets, and livestock.
As their name suggests, no-see-ums are difficult to detect due to their size, often leaving behind lots of bites but no signs of bugs. However, their physical differences set them apart from mosquitoes and other disease-carrying pests. At about ⅛ inch in length, no-see-ums are gray or black flying bugs that are difficult to identify by sight. They leave large and uncomfortable bumps on their victims that last longer than typical mosquito bites.
What do no-see-um bites look like?
No-see-ums leave behind irritating bites that look like small red dots on the skin, similar to mosquito bites. These bumps occur when the insect bites into the skin and injects its saliva, causing annoyingly itchy or sometimes outright painful bites. These clusters of lesions can linger for upwards of 2 weeks, transforming into raised welts much larger than when they first appeared.
Before You Begin…
While a no-see-um infestation is more likely to happen outdoors, indoor infestations can occur in wet areas of the home, such as a bathroom, the kitchen, or in leaking areas. For those dealing with a no-see-um infestation, it’s vital to promptly take action to avoid making the situation worse. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind before getting started with no-see-um removal.
- Stay protected from no-see-um bites by wearing light-colored, long-sleeved clothing and long pants—dark-colored clothing is said to be a draw for these pests.
- While it’s rare in the United States, no-see-ums can carry diseases that can be passed on to humans when bitten, such as Bartonella. Using insect repellent can deter no-see- ums, and therefore help prevent the transfer of diseases.
- Keep family, pets, and landscaping protected by ensuring all products and solutions used for no-see-um eradication are safe. Avoid harsh chemicals that cannot safely be administered.
STEP 1: Eliminate no-see-um hot spots in the yard by removing standing water.
No-see-ums are drawn to moisture—and where there’s moisture, they’ll breed. Removing standing water sources where no-see-ums can breed and keeping an eye on areas where water tends to collect are two of the most effective strategies for getting rid of no-see-ums.
Potential no-see-um hot spots can include:
- Bird baths/water fountains
- Clogged gutters
- Yard debris
- Moist soil
- Hollow trees
- Potted plants
- Pet water bowls
- Tree stumps
- Garbage cans
Areas on the property where there are drainage issues can be a continuous source of a no-see-um problem. Since those areas can be more difficult to pinpoint, homeowners who are not sure who to call for drainage problems in the yard can start by talking with a landscaper about potential solutions. If clogged gutters are at the root of the problem, calling one of the best gutter cleaning services can provide some relief from a no-see-um infestation.
STEP 2: Capture no-see-ums using a homemade trap or a CO2 mosquito trap.
Part of the reason no-see-ums are attracted to people is that humans release CO2 (carbon dioxide). CO2 mosquito traps use this same principle and lure no-see-ums in by emitting carbon dioxide into the air and then trapping them when they get close by using either a vacuum or adhesive. CO2 traps have the greatest impact when they are placed near doorways or other potential entry points. While they are generally effective, the cheapest CO2 traps cost around $300.
DIY mosquito traps can be effective against no-see-ums as these insects are both attracted to CO2. One option is to mix hot water, sugar, and yeast in a plastic bottle and place a funnel on top. The carbon dioxide produced by this mixture will attract no-see-ums and they will become trapped in the liquid. Some of the best fly traps with UV lights may also work against no-see-ums as they are also drawn to light.
STEP 3: Apply natural no-see-um repellents like lemon, mint, or eucalyptus essential oils around the home and yard.
No-see-ums are attracted to the smell of body odor and perspiration, and they feed on the blood of humans and animal blood. Therefore, it’s important to mask the smells they’re drawn to by using repellents such as:
- Essential oils. The best natural bug sprays, lotions, purifiers, and candles infused with essential oils such as mint, camphor, and eucalyptus are organic no-see-um deterrents. These can be applied around windows and doorways for prevention purposes.
- Allethrin-emitting devices. Devices that emit allethrin, an insecticide, prevent pests in outdoor areas by releasing the repellent into the air.
- Permethrin sprays. An all-purpose bug spray with permethrin can target the adult no-see-um population in one’s yard, working as a repellent.
- Picaridin lotion or spray. A long-lasting insect-repellent ingredient, picaridin can last between 8 and 14 hours.
Insecticide sprays can be used on porches and near entrances to ward off no-see-ums outdoors, but they may not be safe to use around the house. Insecticides can also be limited in their effectiveness and may require frequent reapplication. The pleasant smell of essential oils makes them a desirable choice for indoor no-see-um control, and they can also be applied to the skin as a natural alternative to bug spray.
STEP 4: Prevent a no-see-um infestation from growing by keeping doors and windows closed and installing mesh screens.
Keep bugs out of the home by blocking their way in. Closing doors and windows, along with installing small-mesh screens, will make it difficult for pests to get inside. It’s important to note that the weave of standard window screens is large enough for no-see-ums to pass through, so it’s worth opting for an ultra-fine no-see-um mesh instead. This kind of screen can be found both online and in most home improvement stores.
It’s a good idea to ensure that window screens and screen doors are properly installed and sealed and look for other sources where bugs could enter from. Any rips or holes in the window screen will render them ineffective, granting pests easy access to the home.
STEP 5: Mow regularly and keep a tidy lawn so that no-see-ums have nowhere to hide.
Overgrown, lush yards, along with nectar and other consumable juices found in home gardens, are highly attractive to no-see-ums. To avoid an infestation, keep landscaping tidy and ensure all yard waste is removed. Mowing down tall grass and keeping shrubs trimmed will reduce the number of places where no-see-ums can breed. It may be helpful to schedule regular service with one of the best landscaping companies to keep on top of maintenance.
By getting rid of hiding spots for no-see-ums and removing any areas where they are likely to congregate, it’s possible to encourage no-see-ums to settle elsewhere.
STEP 6: No-see-ums prefer damp and warm environments, so turning up the AC and investing in a dehumidifier can discourage no-see-ums from infesting the home.
Because no-see-ums are attracted to body heat, keeping the home cool is one way residents can protect themselves. Maintaining a chilled indoor temperature creates an inhospitable environment for no-see-ums and prevents them from gathering in the home. However, this may not be suitable as a long-term solution if it significantly increases energy bills. Humidity control is equally important, and a dehumidifier can remove moisture in the air. This, combined with running the air conditioning, provides a home that won’t attract no-see-ums, which will cause them to seek shelter elsewhere. This method has the added benefit of helping get rid of drain flies, earwigs, cockroaches, and other household pests that love moisture.
STEP 7: Turn off porch lights and close the blinds to avoid attracting no-see-ums at night.
No-see-ums, which are most active in the early morning and evenings, are attracted to light sources and will fly around any exterior or interior lights that are turned on at night. In this situation, no-see-ums congregating near the front door can enter the home easily when the door is opened. To discourage these insects from hanging around and inside the home, turn off exterior lights after dusk and close the curtains. If turning off exterior lights isn’t an option, yellow low-wattage light bulbs can be a great alternative, as they aren’t as appealing to insects.
STEP 8: Consider hiring a pest control service to apply treatments indoors and outdoors that will halt the breeding cycle.
When preventive measures aren’t enough, enlisting the help of a no-see-um control service can stop pests in their tracks. Even the best mosquito control companies can help, as the mosquito control process is extremely similar to the process for eliminating no-see-ums.
The top pest control companies (such as Orkin or Terminix) have the tools and experience to effectively remove pests while taking the necessary safety precautions. With access to specialized equipment and stronger-grade chemicals, a mosquito control service can quickly get to the root of the problem by identifying areas of infestation and eradicating them.
No-see-ums may be difficult to spot, but knowing what they look like and where they tend to gather can help homeowners safely eliminate them using the methods above, such as removing standing water and keeping yards clean. And for those who find DIY methods to be ineffective, bringing in a no-see-um control service can be the solution homeowners need to enjoy their outdoor areas without getting bit.