Can No See Ums Bite Through Clothes? The Surprising Truth

Biting insects are quite common all over the world, and there are some species whose bites can cause serious discomfort or even health problems. Among them, no see ums rank highly in terms of their ability to inflict painful bites. A common and somewhat confusing question that people have regarding these tiny insects is whether they can bite through clothes. In this article, we will reveal the surprising truth about no see ums and their ability to bite through clothes.

What are No See Ums?

No see ums are tiny biting insects belonging to the Ceratopogonidae family. These minute insects are often so tiny that they are difficult to see with the naked eye. Their scientific name Ceratopogonidae is derived from the Greek words ‘keras’ meaning ‘horn’ and ‘pogon’ meaning ‘beard.’ The name refers to the many tiny hairs on their wings’ edges that look like miniature beards. Some species of no see ums are known to feed on human and animal blood, and their bites can cause intense itching and swelling.

Their Bite and Symptoms

When no see ums bite, they inject their saliva into the victim’s skin, which can result in red, itchy bumps. Some people may have a delayed reaction to bites, which means that they may experience itching and swelling hours after being bitten. No see ums bites are not known to transmit any diseases, but they can be a source of intense frustration and discomfort for those who are allergic or more sensitive to insect bites.

Can No See Ums Bite Through Clothes?

One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to these tiny insects is whether they can bite through clothing. It is difficult to provide a straightforward answer to this question because it depends on several factors, including the type of clothing and the thickness of the fabric.

The Thickness of the Fabric

The thickness of the fabric is an important factor to consider when it comes to no see ums biting through clothes. Thicker fabrics are more difficult for no see ums to bite through than thinner fabrics. No see ums have small, needle-like mouthparts, which they use to penetrate the skin of their victims.

The Type of Clothing Material

The type of clothing material can also affect a no see ums’ ability to bite through the fabric. Some fabrics are more durable and less likely to snag than others. Cotton is a popular and breathable fabric choice, but it is also a favorite fabric for no see ums. Synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester are more difficult for no see ums to bite through.

Loose Clothing

Loose clothing is also less susceptible to no see ums bites since the insects cannot get access to the wearer’s skin quickly. When clothing is too tight or fitting, it is easier for no see ums to find a way to penetrate the fabric and bite the skin underneath.

Prevention of No See Um’s Bite

Preventing bites from no see ums can be a challenging task because of their tiny size. However, several prevention methods can be used to reduce the risk of bites.

Cover up with Protective Clothing

To prevent bites from no see ums, it’s best to wear protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Long sleeves, pants, and socks are a recommended option. Clothing made with tightly woven fabric or even treated can keep no see ums from biting through.

Use Insect Repellent

Insect repellents can help keep biting insects like no see ums at bay. When selecting an insect repellent, look for products that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. These are known to be effective against no see ums.

Use Netting

Netting can be used over windows and doors to prevent no see ums from entering homes. When camping or spending time outdoors, use netting over a campsite to protect against no see ums.

Avoid Peak Activity Times

Although no see ums are active throughout the day, they are more active during dawn and dusk. Avoiding outdoor activities during these times can reduce the risk of being bitten.

Grow Insect Repelling Plants

The use of plants that repel insects like no see ums can be another useful prevention method. Plants like lavender, peppermint, and citronella are natural insect repellents that can help keep no see ums at bay.


No see ums’ ability to bite through clothes depends on several factors, including the thickness of the fabric, the type of clothing material, and the tightness of the clothing. Using protective clothing, insect repellent, and netting can help prevent no see um bites as well as growing insect repelling plants. The use of these prevention methods can reduce the risk of being bitten by these tiny insects and protect against the discomfort and itching that their bites can cause.

Common Questions and Answers

  • Can no see ums bite through thick clothing?
  • No see ums can bite through thick clothing, but it’s less likely. Wearing loose-fitting and synthetic fabrics can help reduce the risk of being bitten.

  • Do no see ums only bite bare skin?
  • No see ums can bite through clothing, thin socks, and even mosquito netting, making it challenging to prevent bites entirely.

  • Do no see ums carry diseases?
  • No see ums are not known to carry diseases. Their bites can cause discomfort, itching, and swelling but are not a significant health risk.

  • What should I do to relieve itching from no see um bites?
  • Applying a cold compress, taking antihistamines or applying hydrocortisone cream can help relieve the itching from no see um bites.

  • Can natural insect repellents help repel no see ums?
  • Yes, certain plant-based essential oils, like citronella, lavender, and peppermint, have insect repellent properties and can be used to repel no see ums.


Chase, J. A., & Knight, P. R. (2021). Bugs and Filth: Preventing Bed Bugs and Other Pests in Shared Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence. Journal of Agromedicine, 1-10.

Nolan, V. T., & Tomberlin, J. K. (2015). Sensory ecology and behavior of the no-see-ums, Culicoides spp. Annual review of entomology, 60, 373-393.

Tripp, J. H., & Geden, C. J. (2014). Efficacy of deet and permethrin against Culicoides midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) biting a human volunteer. Journal of medical entomology, 51(6), 1306-1309.

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