Learn about No-See-Ums

Ceratopogonidae, or biting midges (sometimes referred to in the United States and Canada as no-see-ums, midgies, sand flies, punkies, and other names), are a family of small flies (1–4 mm long) in the order Diptera. They are closely related to the Chironomidae, Simuliidae (or black flies), and Thaumaleidae. Biting midges can be a nuisance to golfers, campers, fishermen, hunters, hikers, gardeners, people playing frisbie golf and others who spend time outdoors during early morning and evenings, and sometimes even during the daytime on still, cloudy days. They will readily bite humans; the bites are irritating, painful, and can cause long-lasting painful lesions for some people.

Many of the hematophagic (blood-eating) species are pests in beach or mountains. Some other species are important pollinators of tropical crops such as cacao. The blood-sucking species may be carriers of disease-causing viruses, protozoa, and filarial worms. The bite of midges in the genus Culicoides causes an allergic response in equines known as sweet itch. In humans, their bite can cause intensely itchy, red welts that can persist for more than a week. The discomfort arises from a localized allergic reaction to the proteins in their saliva, which can be somewhat alleviated by topical antihistamines.

A common observation upon experiencing a bite from this insect is that something is biting, but the person being bitten can not see what it is. Some people being bitten by midges are incorrectly refer to them as sand flies. Sand flies are insects that belong to a different biological group and should not be confused with the biting midges.