Don’t you agree that it doesn’t feel very good to go out on a romantic walk and end up getting bitten by sand flies? This species inhabits coastal areas and bites people thus transmitting various diseases. We’ll tell you how to get rid of these annoying insects, what the scientists advise and what to do if you’re relaxing on the beach, or if your house is located in an area where the sand flies breed, as well as which sand fly repellents, traps, bug zappers and collars for dogs are best to use.
Table of contents:
- Scientists’ Advice on How to Avoid Getting Bitten
- Top-3 Sand Fly Repellents
- How to Protect Your Dog from Sand Fly Bites With 2 Best Repellent Collars
- How to Get Rid Of Sand Flies In The Yard With Insect Traps And Bug Zappers
Know Your Enemy: Sand Flies
Sand flies are disptera insects that are prevalent in coastal areas, near channels, in tropical and subtropical climates. They settle in beached algae or vegetative debris that has fallen from the trees.
Sand flies breed in moist soils in tidal areas, such as mangrove mud and sandy shores. These midges can also enter human habitation if it is located on the coast, especially in green areas. You can barely encounter them in windy areas, but there are plenty of them on cloudy windless days.
Just like mosquitoes, in sand fly communities, the females bite and consume their victim’s blood to acquire the necessary material for egg development. After that, the larvae grow (they must live in a nutrient-rich semi-aquatic environment), and finally, they evolve into adult insects. Then the cycle starts over.
Sand fly bites cause redness and swelling at the spot of the bite. Multiple bites may cause allergies.
If you’ve decided to spend a few days on the coast, make sure you:
- Use repellents. We’ll focus below on the most effective ones.
- Walk on the actual wet sand near water as the flies usually live in beached algae, fallen leaves and other vegetative debris accumulated near water. However, they do not fly over water, so if you settle a little further, you'll be safe.
- If there are too many flies, don’t stand, move! They have tiny wings and it is hard for them to chase humans.
- Bathe every 5 minutes. The flies don’t land on wet skin; they start attacking once you dry up a bit.
- Points 1-4 are relevant if you are wearing a swim suit. If you want to completely fully protect yourself from sand flies and are not going to swim, just put on pants and a long-sleeved shirt. They cannot bite through clothing.
- Use thick creams or cosmetic oils as they will protect your skin with a thin film that sand flies cannot bite through.
How to Get Rid of Sand Flies, if You Live in an Area Where They Breed
If your house is located where sand flies breed, follow the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Florida Medical Entomology experts’ advice on how to avoid getting bitten and ensure your life is calm and fly-less:
- Remove vegetation from your lot, you can leave trees and bushes. This will reduce the number of hiding places for these insects and increase air flow. Mow lawns regularly.
- Install mosquito nets over all windows and cover the doors with an additional curtain made of light fabric. Hang a fine netted canopy over your bed.
- Close the windows on the leeward side. The sand flies are weak fliers, so it is difficult for them to fly against the wind.
- Install ceiling fans at home to cool the space and drive out the flies. They barely bite when there is even insignificant air flow.
- Don’t let any water drip from hoses after watering the plants or washing your car. Try not to engage in such activities late at night, when the midges are most active.
- Pay attention to the sand flies’ behavior pattern relative to the moon cycle in your neighborhood. This species’ biting activity is known to peak a few days after full and new moon. Take this into account and plan BBQs when their activity is least.
- Wear light long-sleeved clothing early in the morning and late at night and use repellents.
- Use bug zappers and CO2 traps to catch adult sand flies (we’ll describe the best ones below).
According to the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Florida Medical Entomology experts, the main active substances eliminating sand flies are the same as against other midges: DEET, picaridin and permithrin. We’ve picked the best sand fly repellents for you: two for your body and face and one spray for clothing.
Repel 100 Insect Repellent, 4 oz. Pump Spray
A Repel repellent for ~$7.19 is one of the most popular and effective repelling sprays against mosquitoes, no-see-ums, and biting flies found on Amazon.com. Its DEET concentration is 98%! It is supposed to protect you not only from mosquito and tick bites but also from midges’ bites. Positive customer feedback is a sign that the spray works. However, consumers agree that a single use effect is not sufficient: “Here in East Texas this year, it's like living in a rain forest due to El Nino. It rains every day. My problem is biting midges. When it comes to midges, Repel 100 lasts about 1 1/2 hours. Black flies like your ears, neck, lips, nose, eyes, and elbows. Why? Ask the midges. But putting Repel 100 around these areas is effective”. However, if midges have become a real disaster, 1.5 hours is also a success, isn’t it? Read over 1600 other customer reviews, and draw your own conclusions on the matter.
Price: from ~$7.19 Check the current price
Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin
This affordable yet useful ~$8.88 repellent remains effective against ticks and mosquitoes for 12 hours and promises to provide up to 8 hours of protection from biting flies, sand flies, gnats and other insect bites. Sawyer Repellent contains Picaridin (20%), which is used worldwide since 1998 and is one of the best sold active ingredients of insect repellents in Europe.
This repellent is safe for family use; it doesn’t damage clothing, bags, watches and synthetic fabrics. It can be applied not only on accessories and clothes, but also on your skin, it is completely safe and has a pleasant citrus scent. If you want to combine it with sunscreen, apply the latter first and use the repellent 10 minutes later.
Price: ~$8.88 Check the current price
Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent
Although Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent for $14.71 is more expensive than other repellents, it provides protection for up to 6 weeks. This versatile repellent promises to deal with ticks, chiggers, mites, mosquitoes and 55 other insect species, making it an ideal option both for a camping weekend, and for longer outings. Moreover, it not only repels insects, but also kills them.
Its active ingredient, permethrin is registered for use by the U.S EPA, but just in case, keep the spray away from cats as it can adversely affect their nervous system. The spray has been helpful in protection of people from midges for many years: Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent has been exclusively used for treating uniforms for the US and Canadian militaries for almost 30 years. Ordinary users also note that this insect repellent is ready to confront “TONS of gnats and mosquitoes even in field conditions. They also recommend that special attention should be given to using it on hats, if you do not want to suffer from having your face bitten.
The repellent is applied right on your clothes and continues its action even after the wash (can be washed 6 times). Unlike DEET, which can damage certain fabrics and materials, permethrin can be used even for such fabrics as silk, as well as synthetic and waterproof fabrics (it does not affect plastic or decorative elements). That is why it can be sprayed not only on clothes, but also on the external side of the tent, backpacks, hammocks, outdoor furniture and mosquito nets. Keep going for about 30 seconds on each side. Asthmatics need to use the product with caution indoors.
Price: ~$14.71 Check the current price
How to Protect Against Sand Flies When You Sleep With Mosquito Nets
You often need protection not only outdoors, but also indoors. In order to avoid spraying repellents everywhere or applying lotions and oil, you can use nets and meshes to protect yourself.
A Bed Canopy Mosquito Net - Premium Mosquito Net for Double Bed by EVEN Naturals
A canopy mosquito net is a great idea if sand flies, black flies, no-see-ums and other gnats pester you at home even at night. Unlike conventional mosquito nets, this one is finer (it has 225 holes per square inch) and can be used as a thick curtain and even tucked in under the mattress. This will ensure it is intact even if you really toss and turn in your sleep.
A net has a grid point and a removable snap ring that can be taken out when you wash the net. The size of the canopy is 394 х 97 inches which is enough for any single or double bed, even king size. It feels very soft as it is 100% multi-filament polyester and it has good air permeability.
Such a net will be handy not only at home but also when travelling, especially if you plan to visit a neighborhood rich in blood-sucking insects. If you use your canopy outside, shake it well after removing it from its bracing as there could be flies stuck in the net.
Price: ~$18.97 Check the current price
A Mosquito Net for Camping Bed - The Friendly Swede Mosquito Net Canopy for Single Camping Bed, Compact and Lightweight Pyramid Net
So your outdoor fun does not become a constant struggle with the midges and spoiled by the bites and buzzing, take along this ~$10.99 Mosquito Net Canopy for Single Camping Bed.
It has 225 holes per sq inch, which makes it a thin but dense barrier against any insects, even small ones such as no-see-ums and sand flies. Its dimensions (220 cm (length) x 120 cm (width) x 100 cm (height)) are suitable for any adult or child, and the green color of the canopy camouflages it well among the foliage.
A cord that allows you to secure the canopy to the branches to have enough space for comfortable sleep is supplied along with the net. The net is made in such a way that the lower part overlaps a sleeping mat or bag from the bottom to protect you from any insects that attempt to attack you from below. Such a physical barrier is a great option for those who don’t like applying insect repellents on their skin at night when camping.
Price: ~$10.99 Check the current price
Not only humans, but also pets suffer from annoying pests. Unlike humans, they can’t dress themselves or hide. To protect your pet from sand fly bites, use repellents. Department of Defense United States of America recommends using deltamethrin dog collars. We’ve studied all such products and picked the best two.
The first one, ~$19.54 Scalibor Protector Band for Dogs is approved by the U.S. EPA and ensures protection of your dog against fleas and ticks for 6 months. It is easily adjusted and is suitable for adult dogs over 12 months old. Its action is not limited to ticks and fleas, as it is Scalibor Protector Band that is recommended for use in the regions where your dog is in danger of being bitten by sand flies which transmit Leishmania.
The second collar, the cheaper of the first one, Salvo Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs 2pk Large, is available for the price from ~$18.40. It is cost-effective and comes in packs of two collars suitable for dogs over 1 year old with neck girth up to 14" (small size) or 22" (large size). The collar is designed for protection against not only sand flies, but also brown dog ticks, American dog tick and deer ticks which may carry Lyme disease. The collar is waterproof.
Both collars use deltamethrin as an active ingredient; hence many dogs suffer from allergies. It is recommended that those dog owners who have already obtained such a collar for their pets put the collar on loosely and watch their dog for some time. If a dog becomes sluggish, take the collar off. Some recommend ventilating a collar for a day before actually putting it on the dog.
Price of Scalibor Protector Band : ~$19.54 Check the current price
Price of Salvo Collar: from ~$18.40 Check the current price
Here we’ve picked for you the three best-selling bug zappers and traps approved by the experts and tested by thousands of customers.
Bug zappers can help reduce the number of adult midge population. For example, the North Carolina experts declare that the so-called "electrocution traps", can attract and kill a large number of midges. But at the same time, they do not have high hopes for this electrocuting device: “It is doubtful that a single electrocutor trap could kill a sufficient number of midge adults to appreciably reduce nuisance populations. In addition, during heavy adult activity, the trap may malfunction as a result of becoming clogged with midge body fragments.” It won’t hurt to try, though. The main idea is to find a better proven and more reliable bug zapper which won’t break down because of the many bugs to be killed, and which is compatible with other control products.
There are two best selling bug zappers on Amazon.com. The first is outdoor Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer with over 6500 customers’ reviews, and the second is indoor Aspectek Powerful 20W Electronic Insect Killer with over 3500 reviews.
Outdoor Bug Zapper – Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer
Flowtron BK-15D is made as an ancient lantern with a 15 watt UV lamp wired with an electric grid. This ~$42.86 device is capable of killing a variety of flying insects, including biting and non-biting midges, sand flies and other gnats within half an acre. It has been empirically verified that during the night, one such "killer lamp" can attract and electrocute up to 10 000 different insects!
Using Flowtron is a piece of cake: at dusk, when it begins to get dark, hang the zapper near your house, turn it on and leave it to work until the morning. Judging by reviews on Amazon.com, in the morning you will find quite a big harvest: "In the morning it looked like someone had taken a sheet of black polyurethane foam and wrapped the light their little dead bodies were so stacked on top of each other. We needed to use air pressure to blow the dead little gnats bodies out of the light.»
Be careful of safety rules as well. Use Flowtron outdoors only, and stay at least 25 feet away when it is on. But don’t worry about your birds or pets: the device has a protective case that will not allow animals to touch the internal electric grid.
Price: ~$42.86 Check the current price
Indoor bug zapper – Aspectek Powerful 20W Electronic Indoor Insect Killer, Bug Zapper, Fly Zapper, Mosquito Killer
The principle of operation of this ~$29.99 bug zapper is the same as that of the outdoor one: the insects become attracted to the UV lamp light, and instantly get electrocuted by the grid. Plug the Aspectek Powerful 20W Electronic Indoor Insect Killer in the socket and it will destroy midges, sand flies, gnats, flies and other insects, which were unfortunate enough to have flown into your room. All you have to do is simply clean the tray of the dead insects regularly.
Where can such a device be used? Use it in any environment: at home, in the garage, at work, in a hospital, cafe, and even in large industrial buildings, as the manufacturer promises that Aspectek is able to cover an area up to 6 000 sq ft. It can work safely even in your kitchen as there is a tray for the insects to crumble. Of course, it is best to turn it on at night, but during the day it is also able to benefit you by killing annoying mosquitoes. Also, do not be afraid to leave it on at night as the zapper is equipped with a protective grate to keep your pets away from the electrical grid.
Price: ~$29.99 Check the current price
CO2 insect trap - Dynatrap Ultralight Insect and Mosquito Trap
The $34.00 Dynatrap Ultralight Insect and Mosquito Trap is the most renowned CO2 insect trap to cover up to 300 sq. ft. It traps midges, sand flies, gnats, flies, mosquitoes, and other flying insects, including flies, wasps and beetles. Just like the bug zappers, it lures the insects with the warm light of a UV lamp, and it also has an additional feature: it mimics human breath! This is the result of UV light and special titanium dioxide-coated surface of the device interaction.
What happens next? After being lured with the light and breath, an insect encounters a powerful but quiet fan which sucks it inside the grid like a vacuum cleaner: once and for all. Once inside a special compartment, all midges will die from dehydration. By the way, do not worry that the insects will get out: the said compartment is tightly closed, even when the trap is turned off. The Dynatrap Trap is not only convenient to install in the patio, pantry, garage or gazebo, but, because of its compact size, it also can be taken with you on trips as long as you have access to electric power!
Price: ~$34.00 Check the current price
Sand Fly Repellents, Traps and Zappers Comparison Chart
As usual, refer to the chart below for easy comparison and choice:
|Repel 100 Insect Repellent||DEET-based repellent||Repels biting flies, mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers up to 10-hour|
|Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin||picaridin-based repellent||Repels biting flies, gnats, chiggers, and sand flies up to 8-hour|
|Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent||permethrin-based repellent||Repels sand flies, ticks, chiggers, mites and mosquitoes - lasts up to 6 weeks (6 washings)|
|Universal Backpackers King Size Mosquito Net With NEW Tear Resistant||canopy mosquito net (225 holes per sq inch)||Protects from flies during sleep|
|The Friendly Swede Mosquito Net Canopy for Single Camping Bed||canopy mosquito net for camping bed (225 holes per sq inch)||Protects from flies during sleep|
|Scalibor Protector Band for Dogs||Scalibor Protector Band for Dogs||Repels ticks, fleas, sand flies and other midges (action lasts for 6 months)|
|Salvo Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs (2pack)||Deltramethrin-based repellent collar||Repels ticks, fleas, sand flies and other midges (action lasts for 6 months)|
|Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer||outdoor bug zapper||Attracts pests with UV and electrocutes them|
|Aspectek Powerful 20W Electronic Indoor Insect Killer||indoor bug zapper||Attracts pests with UV and electrocutes them|
|Dynatrap Ultralight Insect and Mosquito Trap||CO2 trap (for using outdoors and in non-residential well-ventilated buildings)||AAttracts pests with UV and CO2, sucks the insects inside|
Natural Sand Fly Repellents
You might decide to go camping and fail to prepare for encountering sand flies or be allergic to synthetic repellents. You still wouldn’t want to experience the terror of being bitten. Natural repellents are suitable for allergy patients and small children.
You can apply a thick layer of baby oil on you and your children’s exposed skin. This will reduce the number of biting insects which have a small mouth that can’t penetrate the oily film covering the skin.
A mixture of Dettol and aromatic oil such as citronella or lavender is another option. Local research has shown that oil extracted from the lemon scented gum, Eucalyptus citriodora, is also a good midge repellent. And of course, try to avoid places where midges gather.
Sand Fly Bites
What should you do if you weren’t able to avoid a bite?
Rinse the wound. Rinse the wound thoroughly with soap or use an alcohol wipe to reduce the risk of irritation spreading.
Minimize the itch around the bite. The best tested method for that is to dissolve baking soda in water and apply this mixture on the bite. You can also use such products as StingEze Dauber for ~$5.58 or Benadryl Itch Relief Spray for a ~$7.89. They will be helpful when camping, and will save you countless times.
Take allergy pills.