Ceratopogonidae, also commonly known as Biting Midges or No see ums, are a family of small flies that are considered nuisance because of their biting habits. Just like their common name suggests, they are so small that they are hard to see, hence, No see um. They are a small family of flies but are like mosquitoes in that they have similar behaviors and habitats. People who live near swampy habitats or marshlands may often see them swarming in a cloud-like manner, near bodies of water.
Life cycle and Physical Recognition
No see ums undergo a complete metamorphosis. They emerge from an egg, enter into the larval and pupa stages, and then finally mature into an adult insect. Females are typically ready to mate as soon as they emerge from the pupa stage and mating will usually occur in flight. Female No see ums must feed before mating though and so they will usually hold from entering male swarms until after they have fed.
Depending on the species and the size of the meal that the females consumed, the number of eggs that are produced will vary. Typically, a female No see um will be able to lay anywhere from 25 – 100 eggs per meal that they eat may lay eggs several times before she dies. The larvae will emerge from their eggs only after about a day or two and are not strictly aquatic. They will emerge and burrow into the ground, but they cannot develop without a moisture source. This is why they can be found in damp locations such as muddy substrates, under bark in rotten wood composts, water-holding plants, or etc. The larval stage will vary depending on the species and the environment like temperatures or the geographic area that they are developing in. They will then enter the pupa stage which will only last a few days. No see ums proceed to develop until they emerge in mature adult form.
Adult No see ums are typically gray in color and only grow to a few millimeters long. Smaller species are even small enough to pass through spaces in regular window screens which is why many manufacturing companies of camp equipment will use super-fine mesh netting to keep No see ums out. They are winged insects that have patterns in which entomologists will use to identify different species. Mouthparts are extremely well developed which are adapted for piercing and sucking blood in the female No see ums but not so much so in males. Both the abdomens and antennae are segmented.
Habitat and Damage
No see ums or midges are widely dispersed all over the world. In the United States, people will see the No see ums the most in the coastal regions of Florida. As far as damaging crops or vegetation, no see ums do not disturb agricultural communities. However, just like mosquitoes, No see ums are capable of being vectors of diseases. Less severe than disease causing viruses, the bites of No see ums create an allergic response in people. Just like mosquito bites, the bites of midges will cause an intense itch and may cause red welts on the body.