Sand fleas can be irritating, but they don’t have to take over your life. Not all sand fleas can infest your home or your body. For example, mole crabs are sometimes called sand fleas, but they live underneath the sand on beaches and don’t travel indoors willingly. But other sand fleas like biting midges, also called sandflies, can infest a home leaving you with uncomfortable bug bites. Keep reading to discover how to get rid of sand fleas.
What are Sand Fleas?
Though a number of insects and crustaceans are called sand fleas, for the purposes of this article the sand fleas tat are discussed are biting midges, family Ceratopogonidae. These pesky critters, navtive to North America, are the ones most likely to infest a home. While sand fleas are common outside, they can also breed in and take over your indoor spaces. They are very small flying insects that bite and suck blood from their hosts. Biting midges have dozens of nicknames, some of the most common ones include no-see-ums, moose flies, pinyon gnats, five-o’s, and punkies.
Sand fleas are about 1-3 millimeters (0.03 – 0.12 inch) long. They are smaller than the tip of a pencil. Adult sand fleas are grey, but turn red the more blood they drink. During their larval stage, sand fleas look like tiny white worms, and are often mistaken for maggots. Interestingly, only female biting midges drink blood and bite. Instead, male biting midges get their nutrients from plant sap and nectar.
What attracts sand flea?
To get rid of and prevent a sand flea infestation, it’s important to know what attracts them and when they are most active. Sand fleas are crepuscular, meaning they are most active around dusk and dawn. You can easily find these pests while fishing, camping, hiking, or gardening. Sand fleas are attracted to oxygen. They can sense where you are by the oxygen in the area. So, when a sand flea bites you, it’s best not to flail your arms or run away. Sand fleas are also attracted to dark colors., so when venturing outdoors, it behooves one to dress in light colors. These biting flies are attracted to lactic acid, which is a component of human perspiration.
Sand fleas are also more active in wet, boggy areas with dense overgrowth. Protect your legs and feet by covering them with light hued pants and socks. Sand fleas often live near large bodies of water like lakes. They breed in wet conditions, specifically mud with wastewater. Some sand fleas do carry diseases, but they only affect other animals.
How to Kill Sand Fleas
Biting midges aren’t easy to control especially when they take over your lawn. The first thing you should do to kill or get rid of sand fleas is to take away anything that could attract them. For example, if you have a bucket sitting around collecting water, dump it. Applying insect repellent before you go outdoors might keep these pests from bothering you, but it won’t kill them.
If you have a home infestation , there are a couple of options. You can trap and kill sand fleas by mixing 1 cup of hot water and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar with 3 to 4 drops of dish soap in a bowl. The cider and water attract them, while the soap traps them. Unable to get out of the bowl, they drown. Placing a light nearby will also attract sand fleas. Sand fleas love sweet juices and nectar., so wiping down counters and cleaning up spills as soon as they happen, will help keep your home or office free of sand fleas.
What happens when a sand flea bites you?
Female biting midges bite in groups. They look for exposed skin by detecting oxygen and warmth. Biting midges use their mouths to pierce through the skin while also releasing saliva. Interestingly, it’s the saliva that most folks react to, and not he bite!. The saliva stops the wound from clotting quickly so the flea can suck blood. Almost immediately after they finish, a small red bump appears, which may cause a burning or itching sensation in the area.
Although not as common, some people have an acute reaction to the bite, developing large itchy, red welts that swell quickly. As son as you notice the red bites, wash the affected area with antibacterial soap. The bites will go away on their own but to hasten the process, apply cold water or ice to the area, which also lessens swelling and itchiness.
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- entnemdept.ufl.edu, Available here: https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/aquatic/biting_midges.htm
- extension.entm.purdue.edu, Available here: https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publichealth/insects/bitingmidge.html