For many, the summer means sun, flowers, the beach and, unfortunately, the return of sand fleas.The sand flea, also known as the "no-see-um" or the "hop-along," is a flea-like crustacean that stings instead of biting. Sand fleas usually attack in large numbers, causing many stings at once. You can repel the fleas using the same method you would use to avoid mosquitoes. However, the best method to avoid bites is to avoid locations and conditions in which sand fleas thrive. Sand fleas feed in early morning or late evening and are usually found at the beach or around marshy areas.
Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET. Read the label to be sure that the insect repellent repels fleas in addition to mosquitoes. Follow the instructions for application and be careful to avoid getting any in your eyes.
Cover your skin, wearing shirts with long sleeves, long trousers, shoes and socks. The flea cannot bite you if it is unable to get through layers of clothing. It is also important to note that sand fleas jump to a height of approximately 40cm, or 16 inches, which means it is unusual to have a sand flea bite on your upper body.
Sit in a chair with your body off the sand to reduce the risk of bites.
Avoid being outside in the early morning hours or at dusk, when sand fleas are feeding. Especially avoid beaches or marshy areas at this time of day.
If you find yourself being attacked by sand fleas, there is little you can do other than brush them off of your skin and move from your current location, as they are quite persistent. Because the crustacean is extremely small, oftentimes the bites will occur before you are aware that sand fleas are in the vicinity. The only warning sand fleas may provide is a high-pitched whine that results from their swarming behaviour. If you hear this, it is best to move or risk being bitten.
If you experience severe reactions or experience signs of Leishmaniasis, seek immediate medical attention. Though not common, this parasitic disease is spread by sand fleas and should be taken seriously if you begin to experience symptoms, which include skin sores, ulcers and erosion in the mouth, a stuffy or runny nose and nosebleeds, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. This disease is most likely encountered in the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.