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Sand Fleas

Summary: Sand flea bites can cause more pain than many other small insects. Also called no-see-ums, the sand flea can be found in many coastal regions of the United States.

Sand fleas are known by many names such as no-see-ums, midges, beach fleas and sand flies. These little guys feed in the early morning and late dusk when they search for tiny aquatic animals to attack. Of course, when human bodies are lying about they, too, will become targets for sand fleas. This is especially true for pale skinned humans because their skin is thinner and easier for the flea to pierce.

Control requires lots of vacuuming of carpets, crevices along baseboards and under furniture. An application of pesticides will speed up the conrol process. I recommend products like Talstar, D-Force, Precor 2000 Plus, or Tempo 1% dust. For heaven's sake, carefully read the label and make sure you know for certain which product is specifically for inside use and which is for outdoor use. I cannot tell you how many people do harm to themselves by not reading the label. It's the first rule of professional pest control. Read and follow the label.

The sand flea looks a little like a tiny mosquito with shorter mouth parts. Large masses are commonly seen flying around in condensed circles producing a high pitched whine alerting you to their presence. The sand flea bites to suck blood. The flea injects its saliva which thins the blood making it easier for the flea to suck the liquid from its prey.  The saliva causes the human body's immune system to react with a large welt that can irritate the skin for several days, causing severe itching.

Varying species of sand fleas are found in coastal areas of southern states, the California coast and Alaska, although they can be found in nearly any location where conditions suit them. Millions of sand flea eggs can be produced in each acre of land where decaying vegetation is present. This includes march pools, creeks, lakebeds or any other location where water is constantly present, including beaches. The eggs hatch in four to five days and the larvae begin feeding on surrounding minute aquatic animals.

The sand flea larva changes into "pupa" that float like tiny buoys in the water. After a week or so, pupa that have escaped being eaten by frogs, fish and birds, emerge as adult sand fleas and begin to fly. You will know when this is happening by the intense bird activity as predator birds fly low to snatch the sand fleas out of the air.

The best way to protect yourself from a sand fleas is to steer clear of their breeding grounds. As with mosquito control, it is helpful to eliminate pockets of standing water including birdbaths, tires, empty pots and children's toys that have been left out in the yard.

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