Monday, December 6, 2010

No-see-ums nearly ruin trip to St. John in U.S. Virgin Islands

I spent last week with my family on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The island is beautiful. It has gorgeous mountain vistas, stunning beaches and good snorkeling around its coral reefs. But it has something that nearly ruined my visit – tiny biting insects called sand flies or sand fleas. They’re often referred to as no-see-ums because they’re so small you don’t notice them until it’s too late.
At least mosquitoes have the courtesy to buzz around you before they try to suck your blood. No-see-ums are masters of the sneak attack. You don’t see them, you don’t hear them and you don’t feel them bite you. But a short time later you’ll feel the need to scratch your arms and legs. And scratch, and scratch and scratch. The closest thing I can compare the itching to is poison ivy rash.
I had bites all over my legs and arms and a few on my chest after a visit to one beach on the Caneel Bay resort.
Calamine lotion had no effect on the itching. Neither did AfterBite: The Itch Eraser by Tender Corp.
What did work was 1% hydrocortisone cream.
Travel sites in the know warn you to wear insect repellent containing Deet while on the beaches there.
I hate having to cover myself in sunscreen and bug spray to enjoy the tropics, especially when I’m swimming in environmentally sensitive areas like coral reefs. All those chemicals can’t be good for the creatures in the water.
But if you want to enjoy your vacation in the Caribbean, you have to use those products.

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