For the past few months, I had these strange tick-bite like red marks popping up out of the blue all over me. I am -shall we say- very familiar with ticks, spending two years in the forests of India will do that to you, and I was quite sure that these were not ticks. And besides, these days I hardly do field research that involves crawling through the undergrowth. It’s all bring the critters back to the lab for me from now on. Anyway, I did my usual obsessive googling, turned up all sorts of weird causes, including the super bug MRSA, but none of the symptoms matched perfectly. I wasn’t too concerned because the marks kept fading away, only to reappear a month or so later.
Yesterday, it was driving me batty, not the itchiness per se, but the fact that I couldn’t figure out what the hell they were, when suddenly D says, oh I know, they’re Chaquistes.
I froze. What the hell are Chaquistes? I asked.
She said, you know…they’re bugs.
What’s the english name, I asked, not wanting to fight a foreign speaking bug.
She said..um… they’re called Noseeums.
No see ums? I repeated, sure that this was an elaborate leg pull, especially since I work with insects and spiders and such, and I have a non-layman’s knowledge of insects.
She said, yeah, that’s what they are called, because they’re so small, and you don’t see them.
I turned to google with an audible humpf, but lo- they are Noseeums. Little blood sucking midges.
Only the females bite and suck blood. They need the protein in this blood to make their eggs. No-see-ums will take blood from mammals, birds, and reptiles. Male no-see-ums are nectar feeders and do not bite. While the bite is not painful, it becomes very itchy. Some people get a red spot 1-2 inches wide! Try not to scratch the bites; it makes them itch longer and can make the bites get infected.
So now everything is clear. Every time there’s a prolonged set of rainy days, I keep getting bitten by these things, except I never see them, and only see the mysterious marks.