Flying teeth – we have mentioned them a number of times recently. These little biters pack a real punch and, for their size, are the worst critters we have experienced since moving to Spain. A number of you have asked when we were going to write about them… so, to keep the crowds happy, here you go.
These little flying gnashers are known by a number of names: flying teeth, no see-ums, sandflies to mention just a few. They are approximately a millimetre in length, and their wings are double that. Their little bodies are dark, especially when they have gorged on your blood, and the wings are white/grey.
They are apparently “midges”, and any visitors to marshlands around the world will know what a pain they are! Scientifically they are from the ceratopogonidae family, although that seems to be a fairly broad title that extends to any type of small biting critter.
We never came across them in Lanzarote, but since moving to Mainland Spain, we’ve been up close and personal! We have mosquito screens on all of our windows – which is great as it keeps the flies and bees out of the house. But despite the fine mesh, these nasties can still get in.
They are especially prevalent just after dusk, and certainly seem attracted to our indoor lamps and computer monitors. They definitely bite – but unlike mosquitos, you don’t always feel them until afterwards. We have been lucky, as despite being eaten alive… they don’t seem to leave a mark. However, some people are violently allergic to them and so it is best not to take any risks. Update: May 2014 – I have been feasted upon by these beggars for the last week or so, and this time am coming up in welts. I don’t know what is different this year to previously but my legs look a mess and the itching is horrendous!
Just like their very distant cousins, these culprits lay their eggs in standing water. We made the mistake of growing a chilli plant on the windowsill… and suffered with high numbers in the house. However, the worst time we experienced was about a week ago. We had some friends to stay overnight, and whilst outside watching the sun set, a swarm arrived. I swear they send messages out to their mates. Within minutes they had settled on our clothes, our hair, our faces… and any bare patches of skin they could cling on to. Unfortunately they managed to get into the house too – and eating dinner was an experience! You know that Spanish custom of using a piece of bread as a “tapa” over your drink? It works! We all ended up with bread crumbs in our glasses of Vino Collapso, but better that than the pesky flies.
So – how to get rid of them? Well, prevention is better than cure. If you can, avoid having any standing water around that they can lay their eggs in. A chlorinated pool should be ok – they’ll not survive long if they jump in there. But plant pots are lethal (as we discovered) – so try not to have those too close to the house. Bug screens are great – so make sure that you buy one with a very small mesh. Our mesh holes are 1.2mm in diameter, and the flying teeth can still get through. Try perhaps something smaller than 1mm.
Bug spray kills them – but if you suffer with asthma, then the fumes aren’t going to be great for your lungs. Apparently they don’t like naked flames, although we wouldn’t recommend setting your house alight. Perhaps a couple of citronella candles dotted about may be useful. We haven’t tested with candles ourselves, so would be interested to hear from anyone who has had success with them.
Oh, and don’t be tempted to swipe a group of them from your nice clean wall – they will leave a bundle of blood stripes behind. That’s YOUR blood by the way!
Certainly wear long sleeves and cover your legs as much as you can – even if it is only a light covering – they can’t get through fabric.
If you have pets, we would highly recommend that you get them some form of anti-bug products. We use Scaribor collars for our boys from March to October. These can be purchased in a variety of places online, or in pet shops.
Whilst researching these blighters – we also came across this article by Ric Polansky. Sounds like he has suffered too ;)