This is no-see-um season in Alberta. As the popular name suggests, these bugs are invisible until they are actually flying in front of your face.
I don’t even know their official or scientific name. They are simply no-see-ums. They are so small that they can get through fly screens. And, they bite. The females feed on the blood of vertebrates. That’s you and me.
If this sounds like a science fiction movie, welcome to my life. Last week my biggest problem was Covid-19. Yesterday it was the power outage in my garage and a night-time trespasser in the back yard. Oh, and some feral kittens. Today it is no-see-ums.
As I sit in my living room, trying to simultaneously write, read the news online, and half-watch whatever is on TV, I am batting away these monumentally annoying little insects.
They thrive in marshes, swamps, and puddles. Recently we have had more than our fair share of rain so, of course, now we have more than our fair share of no-see-ums.
A couple of years ago we had a similar problem with these pests and I was able to buy from the nearby dollar store some transparent sticky fly catchers to put on windows and doors. They worked perfectly. Perhaps because they worked so well, these have now become unavailable and the best alternative I could find was a sticky board that can be curled into a box shape. You are supposed to place them around the house with the glue on the inside, but that doesn’t work with no-see-ums. So, I am trying them the other way round, with the glue on the outside.
The trouble with this version, though, is that the sticky stuff is strong enough to hold a mouse. If you accidentally touch the glue, you need superhuman strength to disconnect. Nevertheless, I now have a package of a dozen. I’m all in. It has been a while since anything stuck with me for that long so I thought I shouldn’t pass it up.
The second solution I found was bought from a nearby pest control business. Their remedy looks like an apple in a plastic sort of way, and inside is a little tub of some sweet red liquid that is supposed to be irresistible to insects. When that ran out I used red wine which seems to work just as well.
Inside the apple and on top of the lure is heavy paper covered in the same sticky stuff as is on the fly traps. The idea is that the fly is tempted by the smell of the liquid, be it special fly trap juice or wine, then it enters through one of the holes in the apple’s roof and finds itself irretrievably stuck on the gluey paper.
In the last twenty-four hours I have caught precisely one no-see-um in the apple. I did, however, see a second one on top of the apple, just thinking about flying through one of the holes. This may have been a recovering no-see-um because it resisted the pull of the wine and flew away without venturing into the core. I think it has me sussed. Since then it has been dive-bombing my laptop as I type this.
So, while I engage in this battle of wits with a tiny bug, I am pondering the power I have to impose the death penalty on a lesser creature. I once dated a man who declined a second date with me because I had killed an ant when we were chatting in a city park. Maybe he was right. I am beyond redemption. Even so, the no-see-ums have to go from my living room, if not from the wider world.