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No see ums, also known as midges or punkies, are tiny biting insects that are best avoided by using insect repellent that contains DEET or picardin, wearing protective clothing, and using very fine mesh screens indoors. The small size of no see ums can render standard protections against insect infestation ineffective, so it is important for people who live or stay in areas affected by them to use protective screens and clothing designed to protect against these biting insects. For extra protection, insecticide can be applied to screens.
Many people are confused about the identity of no see ums because these insects are very small, though they can be seen with the naked eye. They tend to be found around bodies of water, so individuals who live in those areas should take special precautions against them. Standard insect repellents that contain picardin or DEET are typically effective at helping to these tiny insects from infesting and attacking. Be sure to regularly reapply insect repellent during the day and evening, particularly after swimming or engaging in exercise that causes you to perspire heavily. Be cautious about combining insect repellent that contain DEET with sunscreens, as DEET may interfere with the efficacy of the sunscreen. If you are going to be in the sun and must use a DEET-based insect repellent, be sure to use additional forms of sun protection, such as a hat with a wide brim and clothing that can cover your skin.
Many traditional window and door screens do not provide sufficient protection against no see ums. This is because these insects are very tiny and can easily slip through the type of mesh screen typically used in screen doors, windows, and tent screens. It is possible to buy very fine mesh screen that can keep no see ums out of homes and tenants. Special clothing also exists that can keep the insects from contact with your skin.
These insects can leave behind a painful bite that may look like a welt or blister. These bites can itch and in some cases may be long lasting, as some people may be very sensitive the stings. While the no see um is not thought to spread the West Nile Virus, some individuals have developed a rare but potentially deadly and disfiguring disease known as leishmaniasis after suffering no see um bites.