What are these beasties, can they bite, and how do I get rid of them?
April 21, 2015 2:59 PM   Subscribe

I am in the UK. I get several itchy bites per night, mostly on the back of my neck. I also quite often see tiny flies meandering through the air in my flat. Are these flies likely to be biting me? Photo inside.

I get bitten in the night (at least I think it's in the night, because I itch most when I wake up). My partner in the same bed gets no bites. I am pretty sure it is not bedbugs or anything like that. I have checked for evidence of those and there is none. Also, the only places I get bitten are parts that would be outside the blankets - mostly on the back of my neck, but also my arms.

The flies I see in my flat are tiny. When I see one, it tends to move about constantly, rarely landing, so it's hard to get a photo. I would have assumed they were fruit flies or drain flies or something, but from googling they look different.

I managed to get a photo of a dead one. I put the red marks in Paint to indicate approx 1 inch in distance. The fly itself has a wingspan of maybe 4mm. This beastie died next to the kitchen sink, but I see them occasionally in different parts of the flat.

So, what kind of fly is this (probably a common one - I know nothing about flies)? Can it be responsible for the bites I get? If so, can I eradicate it?
posted by cincinnatus c to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Looks like a midge.
posted by Thing at 3:02 PM on April 21, 2015

Yep, looks like a midge. Common-all-garden bitey beastie and scourge of backpackers in the Scottish summer. It definitely can be responsible for the bites. They seem to love to bite some people (I'm one) but not others. Eradicating is a tall order, since they're so small and there's almost never just one of the buggers.

Instead, try putting some Avon Skin So Soft on before bed (or earlier). I've found it keeps Midgey McMidge away most of the time, and it's certainly a lot nicer than most of the anti-midge stuff you can buy.
posted by gmb at 3:11 PM on April 21, 2015

That appears to be a midge. I've used Smidge That Midge repellent when in Scotland to great effect - you only need a tiny amount on any exposed skin.
posted by sobarel at 3:11 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Midges aren't a problem where I live, but we get a lot of gnats in our kitchen. For the last couple years, I've kept a Drosera on the kitchen windowsill (in sand that's kept wet with the help of a narrow-necked container). Gnat problem: no more. Maybe look into finding one of these bog plants at your local nursery?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:33 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Drosera will not cure a bug problem. In fact it might well attract more of them than you had before (attracting bugs is part one of how they get their food but they don't tend to catch and eat that many). They are not effective bug elimination measures but they are really very cool.
posted by srboisvert at 4:28 PM on April 21, 2015

If it's a midge (and it does look like one), they can definitely bite. Standing water is prime breeding ground for midges (even small collections of water like puddles, buckets, bird baths, etc.), so check if that's the problem. Once you've eliminated the water, the midges should go away.
posted by Arrrgyle at 8:36 PM on April 21, 2015

srboisvert, I beg to differ. We're talking about an enclosed home, not a covered porch--the gnats that come in with produce and the occasional open door aren't calling in their friends from outside. If left over a week when I'm out of the house for work, I'd often come back to meet the gnats and their new families, and gnats aren't prone to follow a command to go out the way one came in. The drosera's been a perfect solution (note the number of gnats on it, none of which I ever notice buzzing around in the kitchen anymore--attracting insects in an enclosed space is precisely the solution I was looking for).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:44 AM on April 22, 2015

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