I'm a biting Midge and my name is Punkie. Most people in these parts refer to me by my nickname -- the No-See-Um. I've gotta confess, though -- South Carolinians call me a lot of other names that are unprintable but it makes no nevermind to me.
Some people think I'm a "sand fly" or a "chigger." I'm not a sand fly. I mean, sand flies and I ARE insects but sand flies belong to a different biological group. You might say we're distant cousins. Chiggers -- well, chiggers aren't even in the same league as me or sand flies. Chiggers are mites. Mites are related to ticks and ticks are real bottom-feeders around here. Pleas, you can see chiggers when they bit. Not me! You can't see me before I've bitten you and moved on.
I'm the small biting insect around. I'm small. I mean, I'm REALLY, REALLY SMALL. I'm so small that I can get through a screen with no problem so don't bother putting on your doors or windows thinking they'll stop me. There's no place around here that I won't find you. Daytime, night-time, sunny days, cloudy days -- makes no difference to me. I live pretty much everywhere. In the evenings, you might see me swarming around with my other No-See-Um buddies. Be sure to keep your mouth shut or you'll suck some of us into your windpipe. I really don't recommend doing that. Inhaling a bunch of No-See-Ums won't make you sick but it might make you cough (and we won't like it much, either).
Why does it itch like mad when I bit you? Glad you asked! You see, when I bite, I have this protein in my spit that pass on to you during the biting process. Then you have an allergic reaction to the spit and that's what causes the red welts and itching to crop up. You thought mosquito bites were a pain? Mosquitos are amateurs when it comes to having a bite that itches 'til you think you'll go nuts. When it comes to itchy bites, I'm the CHAMP!
I hate to admit this, but you can protect yourself from me. The old-fashioned way is to wear long sleeved shirts, long trousers, shoes, socks and a hat anytime you venture outdoors. I'm here to tell you, wearing that get-up during South Carolina summers is synonymous with pure, unadulterated torture! It's much too hot around here to wear all those clothes and it really doesn't help. Even with those instruments of torture on your body, I'll find a way to get to you. Although...there is one bug repellant I don't like and lucky for you (but lousy luck for me), it's easy to get. Just go to your local big box hardware store or neighborhood hardware store and ask for the stuff that keeps No-See-Ums from biting. The people there will know eaclty what you need and see that you get some. I hate it. It's like biting into a big bowl of chocolate covered tar. Bleeech!
And one more think you should know about me -- we No-See-Ums do NOT spread the West Nile Virus. That stuff's transferred by mosquitos, y'all. I'm not a mosquito so don't go spreading rumors that my bites will give you the West Nile Virus. Not true!
Well, it's been a pleasure meet you--for me, anyway For you...probably not so much. See you soon!