Bugs are bad at the barn this year. Maybe it’s a result of all of the wet weather we have experienced. Flies, gnats, mosquitoes and the dreaded No-See-Ums are hatching in multiple waves, extending their season of oppression longer than usual.
As equestrians saddle up for outdoor schooling and trail rides, many horsemen and horsewomen may be seen swatting at seemingly invisible invaders. Even the most refined individuals may occasionally spit while mounted or on foot.
Those dreaded bugs are everywhere, and they are particularly attracted to faces. Like mosquitoes, most gnats and No-See-Ums are drawn to the carbon dioxide we exhale. That’s why they seem to want to fly right into mouths and noses.
Ugh! Does it get any grosser than that?
What is a No-See-Um?
These tiny insects are big annoyances to equestrians and other outdoor enthusiasts. Although we can hardly see them, we can sense their swarming. We know they are there.
Scientifically known as Ceratopogonidae, No-See-Ums may also be known as biting midges or punkies. They are related to sand flies and black flies.
No-See-Ums are frequently found in wet areas. Although they feed on plant nectar, the females among these insects bite humans, horses, ponies, donkeys, dogs, birds, goats, lambs, cattle, and other animals to gather blood for developing their eggs.
The resulting bites may become red, swollen, and quite sore. In some cases, bites may grow infected. Horses can have allergic reactions to No-See-Um bites, resulting in sweet itch.
Doesn’t sound very sweet, though, does it?
Bug repellants can help to protect humans and horses. Fly masks and fly sheets may minimize bug bites for equines, if they offer sufficient density to shield against these miniscule creatures.
Eventually, the bug season will give way to cooler weather, and the fall’s first frost will ban the bugs completely for another year. But who wants to hasten the winter?
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