It was the 4th of July weekend, a weekend normally spent traveling, celebrating, or both. Yet for us, the weekend meant more this year. It was time for a short getaway and a break from the uncertainty and stress of the times. My wife and I had been wanting to visit the shell-covered sands on the beaches of Sanibel Island for quite some time. I even thought about the splendor of finding a coveted, full-size conch shell. I was certain this would be a memorable trip for us and it was, but only because it was the most painful and irritating vacation we’ve ever had! When people experience pain, most sane people zealously attempt to avoid repeating the experience, so when you encounter ongoing pain while visiting somewhere, should you ever revisit that place again? That’s the question I’m pondering as I lay on the sofa lathering over $50 dollars of anti-itch creams and aloe on my hundreds of welts and bumps courtesy of Florida’s little-known pests called no-see-ums.

No-See-Ums

Also known as biting midges, and scientifically referred to as Ceratopogonidae are flies measuring one to three millimeters in length that thrive in coastal and tropical areas. They are known to strike during dawn and dusk. These little terrors are ninja-like, inflicting pain often without being seen as a result of their minuscule size and agile flying ability. I was clearly unaware of their invisible, yet painful presence as I sat on the patio of the restaurant enjoying a plate of gator tail and coconut shrimp. The attack began halfway through the meal. Since I couldn’t see the attackers, I assumed they were just little ants or perhaps Florida’s most known flying nuisance, the mosquito. Boy, was I wrong! The following evening, while enjoying a stroll on the beach, the onslaught began again! For a little over an hour, I engaged in a futile resistance against the nonstop attack! A fellow beachgoer saw my suffering and shared her family’s near-identical experience. She kindly offered to let me use their no-see-ums repellent that she armed herself with to assist her in the battle against these ferocious aerial assailants. I gratefully accepted and recalled seeing that spray at the restaurant we ate at the night before. Which so happened to be where their warning shots were fired. The next morning, I dashed out to buy the spray but by then, it was too late. The damage had been done. Hundreds of bumps appeared on my legs, hands arms, neck, and a few in areas that would be inappropriate to mention. I even had bumps on top of bumps and, man, did they itch! To make matters worse, a wave slammed into me while I was snorkeling and searching for that coveted conch shell that sent me crashing into the shelly sea floor the previous day. The scratches I suffered from that incident burned intensely with each squirt of the no-see-ums repellent. I felt the fiery sting of the spray on top of the continuously agonizing itch from the hundreds of bumps all over my body that lasted for weeks. That’s right, these bites burned and itched for the next 2-3 weeks. Mosquitoes, while being one of the most annoying and dangerous creatures on earth, have nothing on these little demons! Pound for pound these little things are the uncrowned kings of annoyingly itchy bites.

The Boardwalk Path To Bowman Beach

While researching a cure to my uncomfortable predicament, I learned that no-see-ums are drawn to tropical areas. They flourish not just on Sanibel Island, but also in Key West, and the Caribbean. These are all unbelievably beautiful places that seduce tourists to visit with their warm weather, lush greenery, amenities, and beautiful beaches. I contemplate if I will still yearn to visit these enticing destinations. The allure is still there but so are these bumps that randomly itch and burn and seem to be multiplying as the days go by. I understand that the passing of time will heal the wounds but the memory of the two-week recovery due to the attack of these nearly invisible predators will not fade. Eventually, when I do pack for an excursion to Key West or a week-long stay in the Exumas, the first item going into my suitcase is the no-see-um repellent I bought while visiting Sanibel Island.

Get repellent here: https://nonoseeum.com/

Midge: Image by Pete from Pixabay

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