In last weeks post we talked about the world’s worst insect, the mosquito. At the foot of that post I mentioned that this week I would introduce you to the mozzies irritating little brother. Technically I am not sure if they are related, but they are both ‘orrible little bloodsuckers.
First, a picture of this little critter….
Did you see him? No!
Well, I’m not surprised. These things are so tiny they often go unobserved. They are the smallest bloodsuckers in the world often measuring less than half a millimetre in length. They are commonly known as sandflies, biting midges, no-see-ums, biting gnat’s, punkies and you little *&%@/()!
But don’t worry, I have zoomed in using special equipment to get a close-up of what I believe are officially called biting midges. You can see that close up at the foot of this article, but first, more about the midge.
It is beyond me how something so tiny can have such a bite! These things are much smaller than a pinhead, they are so light they float, they are just tiny little black specks.
Have you ever tried closing your eyes really tightly and pressing your fingers gently against your eyelids and just observing? You will see what looks like a galaxy of tiny little green specks filling an endless universal void. Well, these midges are smaller than just one of those tiny little green specks.
Did you try it? Do you see what I mean???? Oh. Perhaps it’s just me then.
According to Brisbane City Council, these midges were a minor nuisance in the Brisbane area until October 2004. Then they found their way into some tidal creeks in the western suburbs (great! That’s where I live) and since then their numbers have slowly increased. But it’s not just Brisbane, midges are Australia wide.
Unlike the mosquito, biting midges cannot spread any dangerous diseases, although if you scratch a bite too much it can become infected. Lesson: don’t scratch! That’s actually very good advice for mozzie bites too.
Other than that hugely important difference, biting midges are very similar to mosquitoes. These midges are so small they can often get into your house through the mesh protection. I was plagued by them (or it may even have been just one, I never got a good look at his face) in my office about four or five months ago. I once got bitten six times within about 20 minutes.
But, and I don’t think there is any scientific evidence supporting this, I am pretty sure you build up an immunity to them. Their bites used at to itch like crazy when I first arrived here in Australia. The itching could last as long as four or five days. But now, within half an hour or so of a bite I’ve pretty much forgotten it’s there.
Mind you, it’s taken me nearly 2 years and probably between 100 and 200 bites from both mosquitoes and biting midges to get to this point.
It all sounds quite intolerable, I know. But I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, it’s a small price to pay. And there’s plenty you can do to prevent getting bitten.
Prevention is next week.
I know it looks big on the zoomed in image, but that was taken under a microscope by the Agricultural Research Service, who are the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. My thanks to them for the image. (And sorry if it scared you).