What are No See Ums? Learn 13 Interesting Facts about No-See-Ums

No See Ums, or technically known as Ceratopogonidae are type of files that are very similar to mosquitos. In this article, you will discover 13 facts about them. 

What are no see ums?

No see ums belong to a family of flies known as Ceratopogonidae, and are commonly known as biting midges. They are very tine small in size and hardly visible, but they make their presence felt through their bites. 

Their whole family includes over 5000 species and is found everywhere barring the Arctic and the Antarctic regions. Also more than 600 of their species are found in the U.S alone.

Only the female no see ums bite humans and suck blood to draw proteins for their eggs, which causes immense pain to that person.

Their bites possess a tremendous itchy tendency, and can turn out to be infectious if not treated properly.

13 Facts about No See Ums

1. What do no see ums bites look like?

Female no see ums inject their saliva under the skin, causing blood to pool near the skin’s surface. Hence a small red spot develops on the skin.

No see ums bites are accompanied with pain for several hours or sometimes days, one can notice a cluster of red dots or large welts on the skin.

This cluster of red dots, along with the itchy tendency of the bitten regions confirms that the bites are of no see ums and not mosquitoes.

The no see um bites often transform into larger discolored areas up to 2 inches in diameter.

2. Where do no see ums come from?

Most no see ums come from their breeding grounds which include lakes, ponds, tree-holes, moist soil, and plants that can retain pockets of water.

Although the breeding grounds of no see ums differ by species, they mostly prefer wet regions including wet seashore sands.

It is in such wet regions that the female no see ums lay their eggs, which are usually 400 or more at a time, thus giving birth to new insects that originate from such places.

Other than moist places, the larvae of no see ums can also survive on rotten fruits.

These species cannot live in cold climates, therefore they are not found in Antarctica and the Arctic. 

3. How long do no see ums live?

The life-span of a No See Um depends upon its habitat. In a natural environment an adult No See Um can last for upto 7 weeks.

A complete life cycle of a No See Um can occur from 2-6 weeks. But when kept in labs for research purposes, it can last for upto a year. They live through course stages – egg, larvae, Pupal, and adult stage. 

Eggs are generally laid by the females, in a very warm area. The eggs generally hatch within 2-10 days.

The Larvae stage is when they are of 2-5mm big and generally larvae develop out of the water in moist or wet sand, mud, or any other moist, protected area near the water’s edge

The Pupal stage generally lasts for about 2-3 days. These structures allow them to keep the pupae hanging just below the water’s surface.

The adult stage generally lasts for about 7 weeks. As adults, no-see-ums are very small, often not more than 3 mm long.

4. What Attracts No See Ums?

No See Ums are hematophagous pests, they spot their next blood meal through the carbon dioxide and heat emitted from their next victim.

The other significant thing that attracts them is human odor. When humans breathe out the carbon dioxide, it acts as an attraction for the no see ums, causing them to come near humans. Apart from this, the no see ums are also attracted toward lactic acid.

In addition to nectar, the female no see ums also require blood to lay eggs, and hence they are attracted to humans, pets, birds, and animals to obtain their blood requirements, to be able to gain optimum proteins required to lay eggs.

5. Where do No See Ums live?

No See Ums generally live in warm and dumpy places. They prefer aquatic or semi-aquatic places to live. They like such places because they can lay eggs there comfortably.

They prefer laying eggs in moist substrates in swamps, mashes and in multiple agricultural areas with moist soil high in organic content like, manure.

They mainly choose warm places to nest, as it is kind of a honeymoon place for them to mate. In your house, they feed on damp and stale vegetables. They look for standing water like near your basins or in your bathroom.

Outside your house, they search for standing water again, as this is their go to place for breeding. So, if you have watered your garden, make sure to dry it with a garden broomstick before they invade your garden.

6. What kills No See Ums?

This an answer that everyone wants to know. Well, there are multiple ways to kill No See Ums, the best way is to use pesticides containing DEET or you could Picaridin to blast these bugs on sight. It kills them immediately. Many sprays are available in the market, but not all of them are strong enough to kill the No See Ums.

You could also use a Carbon Dioxide Lure trap, as you know these flies are attracted to Carbon Dioxide, so these traps use it for our advantage. It attracts them and then sucks them in by a vacuum nozzle and eventually, dehydrates them to death.  

7. When do No See Ums come out?

The No See Ums generally come out at dawn and dusk. They don’t come out at night, as they can’t handle the cold climate. They like warmth and so come out at dawn and dusk.

As soon as the night approaches, they return to their nesting place as it is warmer than the night climate. But, if they don’t have a nesting place, they can just keep roaming until they find a place warm enough for their females to nest, be it inside or outside your house.

8. What eats No See Ums?

The No See Ums are often eaten up by invertebrate predators. Invertebrate predators are those, who feed on fish, frogs, small birds, bugs, and centipedes. General examples of it are spiders, scorpions, ladybugs, etc.,

Most of the No See Ums are eaten by spiders, as they get trapped in their web, and eventually get eaten by them. They are also eaten by dragonflies and bats.

No See Ums are small in size, so they are nothing as compared to their predators. Therefore they can be eaten easily by spiders and scorpions without even giving them a fight. 

9. When are No See Ums most active?

As stated earlier, No See Ums crave warm weather, therefore, they are most active in the early mornings and evenings of mid to late summer.

They are active in any weather, but during summers they are at their peak. They come out more often to enjoy the warm breezes of the summer evenings. 

10. Where do No See Ums bite?

They bite multiple times, they don’t have a specific target area to bite. Whatever part of your body is exposed, they shall bite there.

Most of the time our arms, neck, and legs are exposed, therefore we get bitten a lot in these areas. But, these are not fixed areas, you can get bitten on any part of your exposed skin.

11. How far do No See Ums travel?

No See Ums travelling distance totally depends on their meals. If they find their prey nearby, they don’t need to travel much, but if they can’t find it nearby, then they need to travel far enough to feed themselves.

They generally don’t travel far away from their breeding place, as the females need protection from the predators. They travel for only two things – food and shelter. 

12. Where do No See Ums Nest?

No See Ums generally nest in warm and dumpy areas. Near a lake, pond, moist soil, and plants that are able to retain pockets of water. The nest mainly comprises the females, as they are the ones laying eggs, while males are out in search of prey.

Females need warmth and moisture for breeding. Therefore, if you have standing water near your house, clean it as quickly as possible before they breed there. 

13. What time of the day do no see ums come out?

No see ums can trouble humans any time when the air is still, but they are most active either during dawn or the dusk.

They are hardly found after evening and hence one must remain cautious during the dawn and dusk as this is the time when the no see ums come out.


This article provides us the major information about no see ums, their characteristics, behaviors, and food habits.